15 MARCH 1963, Page 15

'ANIARA' AND SCIENCE FICTION SIR,—Mr. Kingsley Amis seems to have

interpreted Aniara as a science fiction article, full of illiterate and amateur mistakes, rather than as a visionary poem in which strange terms, expressions and new words are all, or most of them, imaginary although based on scientific knowledge. The fact that the

work has been translated in verse form does not, of course, guarantee the same poetic quality as in the original--but surely this cannot be expected of any poem dealing with such a difficult and complex sub- ject as Aniara! It may be that the poem is untrans- latable, for the many reasons that make all transla- tions a risk and a gamble (Beowail, for instance, to which Mr. Amis refers, and which nobody has ever succeeded in translating, though many have had a shot at it. If it comes to that, who has succeeded in translating Homer?). On the other hand, when a seri- ous effort is made to present, as nearly as possible, the work of a foreign author of high standing in his own country, one scarcely expects such a casual and hostile reception as that given to ibilarti by Barry Martinson's British colleague.

One is tempted to wonder whether the last line in Mr. Amis's review, about 'the drooping eyelids,' may not be part of the answer—though not quite in the way he meant it himself?

EispErta HARLEY SCHUBERT Svarfviksringen 17, SaltsjUbaden, Sweden