Introduction & Overview of Lost in Translation

This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lost in Translation.
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Lost in Translation Summary & Study Guide Description

Lost in Translation Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Lost in Translation by James Merrill.

“Lost in Translation” was first published in the New Yorker on April 6, 1974. It later became part of James Merrill's collection Divine Comedies, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976. This work, and the subsequent award, helped cement Merrill's reputation as one of the top young American poets.

The poem is a complex study of loss and the artistic rendering of experience. Merrill presents fragments of experience that become apt metaphors of loss and dislocation in a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate world. The poem's fragmented, yet ultimately unified form highlights the contradictory nature of the creation of art, as the artist strives to “translate” experience into the stylized structure of a poem.

Merrill focuses on the speaker's memories of his childhood at the point when his parents were separating and he was struggling to adapt to his newly disrupted world. The boy anxiously awaits the arrival of a puzzle, which he and his French nanny will put together. When the puzzle finally arrives, it comes alive to him, as it evolves into a metaphor for his own experience. As the pieces of the puzzle “translate” into a unified, meaningful whole, Merrill explores the tensions between art and reality and the problems inherent in establishing an absolute vision of human experience.

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This section contains 210 words
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