The Hymns of Zoroaster: A New Translation of the Most Ancient Sacred Texts of Iran Paperback – 29 Oct 2010
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'Translating the words and comprehending the meaning of Zoroaster's devotional poems is always challenging. M. L. West has produced a lucid interpretation of those ancient words. His renditions are filled with insights and empathy. This endeavour is an important contribution toward understanding more fully some of the earliest prophetic words in human history.' --Jamsheed K Choksy, Professor of Iranian Studies, History, and India Studies, Indiana University
'A thoroughly worthwhile and refreshingly readable translation of the Older Avesta, M. L. West's book will be widely welcomed, by students and general readers alike.' --Almut Hintze, Zartoshty Reader in Zoroastrianism, School of Oriental and African Studies, London
'In this new and dauntless translation of the Gathas, M. L. West resuscitates the notion of Zoroaster as the self-conscious founder of a new religion. In advancing this idea, he takes position against many modern interpreters of these extremely difficult texts. The clarity and beauty of his translation will be much welcomed by students of Zoroastrianism and by Zoroastrians themselves, while his bold interpretation will spark off welcome debate among specialists.' --Albert de Jong, Professor of Comparative Religion, Leiden University
About the Author
M. L. West is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. From 1974-91 he was Professor of Greek at Royal Holloway, University of London. His many books include The Orphic Poems (1983), An Introduction to Greek Metre (1987), Ancient Greek Music (1992) and Indo-European Poetry and Myth (2007).
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Top Customer Reviews
It feels like more of a commercial product for the curious reader than something for the serious student. But this clarity and approachability are its greatest strengths. It is also a really well presented book. The cover is attractive and it is good quality.
The translations of the yasnas, the hymns, are accompanied by notes by West explaining each verse and its relation both to the hymn as a whole and to the rest of Zoroaster's extant oeuvre. A Zoroastrian liturgical text is also translated. The introduction makes much of the precision of the oral mode of transmission, noting that the accuracy of the Zoroastrian priests who had memorised Zoroaster's hymns was greater than the fidelity of many manuscript traditions.
This translation is a perfect companion to the Rigveda, and I'd recommend reading each side-by-side.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This expertise in ancient poetry gives West a different perspective on the Gathas than most translators. He is not just looking at the words, but seeing forms, styles, and references that he is familiar with from Homer and the Rig Veda and using these to influence his translation. Not everything is in sync with other translations, but what would be the point if it agreed 100%?
This book is sure to provoke discussion, which is never a bad thing. However, I am hoping for a second edition with a bit more editing. In the introduction West jumps ahead of himself several times in ways that could be very confusing to someone not familiar with the subject. Additionally, in an example given of the Avestan script, the transliteration does not 100% match the script, with no explanation given as to why this is.
West's attempts to keep the translation in the same poetic forms as the original does at times make it hard to read. He accommodates by having one page be the direct translation, and the facing page a synopsis. I think I would have preferred if he had also included a free verse form, if just for ease of reading for those not used to the structures often found in translated poetry.
of Ancient Greek text, beginning with
Hesiod. He was astute enough to
realize that the Theogony was
heavily influence by Ancient Near
Eastern texts. He has over the years
made himself a master of most, if not
all, Indo-European languages and
poetry in those langages.
His view of Zoroaster/Zarathustra
seems fresh and exciting