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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Valentio Di’ Buondelmonte: A Tragedy in Five Acts (Resource Publications), by Haig Khatchadourian

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Why write an Elizabethan tragedy in the 21st century—and accompany it with your own translation into contemporary English? To give one answer, anyone who ever read Shakespeare’s sonnets carefully has wondered how on earth those same thoughts might be expressed nowadays. Has English lost some of its expressive power even as its vocabulary has ballooned? UW-Milwaukee philosophy professor Haig Khatchadourian may have had similar thoughts when he penned this brief tragedy set in Florence at the eve of the Renaissance. As his UWM colleague Roy Arthur Swanson writes in the forward, the Elizabethan prose can include an ambiguity that “can enhance our experience of language” beyond the linearity of so much contemporary writing. Even in his translation, Khatchadourian’s text forces 21st century readers to come to terms with the poverty of contemporary expression.