In his Song of Solomon—Remastered, Kenneth Klarner claims to have provided “a logical reconstruction” of this short book in the Old Testament.
The Song of Solomon, states Klarner, must be regarded as a “collection of parts that were recompiled in a WRONG ORDER from what they originally were in.” Klarner speculates that Judaic scholars must have “compiled scattered bits” of the song “because it was thought to have been written by king [sic] Solomon,” and postulates that there was “one central story” to which other verses were appended.
Klarner’s “remastering” entails rearranging lines and verses so that similar metaphors, motifs and subjects are placed in proximity. Thus, there are verse sections grouped under titles like “Description of the New Bride,” “Doves,” and “Goats.” In addition to the traditional lines attributed to companions or a chorus, he also gives lines to disparate voices (Voice 1, Voice 2, etc.), lending the song a theatrical flavor.
Each page of Klarner’s arrangement is followed by a page giving the lines and verses they were taken from. Some of Klarner’s changes bring welcome clarification to the text. For instance, to the line, “I went down to the grove of nut trees…,” he adds the reason: “My lover may be looking for me there.” Other changes, in their generalization, sadly transform the poetic language of the original to the work-a-day. Compare the text, “Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon,” to Klarner’s “Your lips are lovely.” Klarner also makes some puzzling organizational choices. For example, he places the bride’s introductory description of herself (“Dark am I, yet lovely”) near the end of the poem.
Noticeably absent is a discussion of translations or even an attribution to the translation the author used, and Klarner never juxtaposes his version to the original poem to enable a full assessment of his account.
While Klarner offers an interesting conceit in these pages, revision with an eye to the aforementioned issues would make it more effective overall.
Also available as an ebook.