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Between heaven and hell: Shakespearian translation, adaptation, and criticism from a historical perspective.


In recent decades the field of Shakespearian translation has changed drastically. With the erosion of the Romantic notion of the artist and the sacrosanct status of the source text, the translator of Shakespeare has gained the status of a creative artist in his or her own right. Moreover, there has been a renewed interest in translation as adaptation. This appreciation of rewritten Shakespeare, too, has emphasized the creative contribution. Finally, with the cultural turn in literary studies, the meaning of the term 'translation' has expanded, and a broad space has been created where Shakespearian 'translation' is currently being discussed not only by the original translators and scholars whose native language is not English, but also by Anglo-oriented scholars with an interest in the cultural trac in the work of the nation's most famous playwright and poet.

This paper is dedicated to the memory of Inga-Stina Ewbank (1932-2004), an inspiring friend and colleague.

In recent years, there have been many changes in the area covered Jointly by Shakespeare Studies, Translation Studies, and Cultural Studies. In this article I shall try to identify a number of these. Among other things, they involve the development of the traditional, Romantic, author-oriented view of translation into a perception of both the source text and the translation as products of historically specific moments, determined as well as nourished by many linguistic and extra-linguistic factors of a political or cultural kind. The changes also involve the developing notion that translation and adaptation are more akin to one another than had long been acknowledged; translation may be defined as a mode of adaptation, while adaptation may convincingly be defined as a form of translation in a metaphorical sense. But the two terms cannot be used interchangeably. There is a point at which either term reclaims its original meaning. In the case of Shakespearian adaptations from the European Continent and beyond, for example, written in languages other than English, back translation into English will still be required if communication between the academic communities of different nations continues to be a desirable objective. The final change in the field of translation is that, partly due to the cultural turn in literary studies, the English-speaking Shakespearians, who formerly left the traffic of Shakespeare between languages to their foreign colleagues, have now also been inspired by the notion of 'translation' in the broadest sense of the term. A more universal recognition of the merits of the Bard and/in translation has developed, and with it a more finely integrated field of Shakespeare Studies that also entertains warm relations with both Translation Studies and Cultural Studies. To illustrate some of these processes in Shakespeare's afterlife, I shall take as my starting point a number of examples of the playwright and poet as a fictional character in heaven and hell, personally confronted with the issues of translation, adaptation, and criticism.

Shakespeare and his Translators

In 1874 the German classicist Oswald Marbach published a satirical verse play entitled Shakespeare-Prometheus, (1) in which he developed the notion of Shakespeare as an artist who rivalled his maker and invited punishment for this admirable though subversive act of imitating God. Part of Shakespeare's punishment for the Promethean endeavour during his lifetime was, as Marbach presents it, to be confronted with his translators on a deserted mountain range outside the gates of hell. Here, the playwright meets a Chorus of Translators, an assembly of 'wolves, foxes, hyenas, jackals, wild cats, and other predators' hovering around the playwright (p. 27). All of these predators are attracted by the money that a Shakespearian translation brings in, and they are fighting amongst themselves for every morsel of unresisting dead meat, tugging at it, disfiguring it. Whatever is great, they say, they will make small; whatever is fine and delicate they will cause to look fat and pudgy; whatever is noble they will make common; they will soil whatever is pure; and they will turn truth into mere appearance (pp. 27-29).

The representation of the scavenging translators of Shakespeare by Marbach is typically Romantic. His view of the artist has its beginnings in George Shaftesbury's definition of the poet as a second maker, a 'Prometheus under Jupiter', and it became part of the German reception of Shakespeare when Goethe, in the first of his two influential essays on Shakespeare, 'Zum Shakespeares-Tag' (1771), described the English playwright as one who 'rivalled Prometheus, copied his creatures trait by trait, only [making them] colossal in size'. (2) Despite repeated attempts to quench the cult of the Hero as Poet (as Thomas Carlyle defined it), or the phenomenon of Shakespearomanie (as the Germans themselves termed it), bardolatry (as George Bernard Shaw first called it) persisted. (3)

With the continued veneration of Shakespeare persisted the Romantic belief in the unique genius of the individual artist, and--nourished by the editorial revolution of the eighteenth century--the faith in a more or less clearly defined view of the master text. This, in turn, gave rise to a tradition of source-oriented translation that would enable the translator accurately to capture the playwright's exclusive genius by focusing, for his starting point, either on the word or on the spirit of the word. Clearly, the fictional Shakespeare in Marbachi's play is a Romantic artist punished by translators who, from a Romantic view of translation, are mere bunglers.

To a degree, the Romantic notion of translation still has its adherents, and a number of traditional translators tend to subscribe to this view even today. Translators may still on occasion throw dictionaries at one another, as it were, to add force to their claim to have found the mot juste. However, one should not overstate the case. In reality, the past two centuries have witnessed a decisive move away from the purely textual and author-oriented approach to Shakespeare and his work towards a recognition of the translator's more recognizable role as a mediator at historically specific moments, and a vital agent in a complex exchange process. With this has come greater recognition of the creativity of the translator himself. Given these developments since the early nineteenth century, it seems fair to conclude that Shakespeare is no longer trapped outside the gates of hell like a Promethean figure deserving punishment. Moreover, thanks to the changes that have taken place both in the practice of translation and in our perception of it, we have come a long way from believing the Italian proverb (current as long as the Romantic, author- and source-text-oriented mode of translation prevailed) that the translator (traduttore) is a deceiver (traditore). In fact, the translator has the freedom to claim certain liberties, if these are well justified.

A case in point is the contemporary French poet and translator Yves Bonnefoy. As a reader and translator of Shakespeare, he is highly sensitive to the language and structure of the poetry, and, as a consequence, his prose writings about translating Shakespeare are always rewarding. However, as a poet in his own right, as one more capable than other wordsmiths to inspire the language of the resultant translation, Bonnefoy's treatment of the Shakespearian original is both idiosyncratic and unpredictable. His rendering in French of Shakespeare's sonnets is a case in point, particularly when his translation runs to seventeen or eighteen lines: 'I tell myself--am I wrong?--that it's all right to lose a lot of the rhetoric as long as some of the poetry remains.' (4) Anyone fearing that 'lawlessness' might here be taking over from respect for the canonical Early Modern English original text need only consult Bonnefoy's sensitive prose in order to be convinced of the virtue inherent in his poetical credo: 'I indulge myself in the belief that verbal prowess is, after all, only a brilliant envelope that must be opened to reveal the letter inside, which is the only thing that matters' (p. 255).

But in order to convey the Shakespearian potential in French, other alternatives exist, and the French scholar and translator Jean-Michel Deprats, for example, sets out to find new means of expression in the intersemiotic translation of Shakespeare, profiting from the availability of alternative sign systems offered by the theatre. Deprats has enhanced the power of the word with that of other, non-verbal means of expression like intonation, diction, and bodily gesture, realized in close collaboration with directors, actors, and other theatre makers. As Deprats put it after translating Shakespeare's Babelish play Henry V into French twice in ten years (once to dub the Kenneth Branagh film of 1989 with a wildly enthusiastic Gerard Depardieu providing the king's voice, and again in 1999 when Shakespeare's patently anti-French chronicle had its French stage premiere at the Avignon Festival):

Although [...] some translators desperately try to invent homogenised parlances and distinct mannerisms in French, my absolute conviction is that there can be no valid purely linguistic translation of regional accents--genuine or artificial--into another language, only a temporary, individualised, and always to be reinvented, scenic translation. [...] To put it in Roman Jakobson's terms, intersemiotic translation (from word to gesture, from speech to acting) takes up where inter linguistic translation leaves off. (5)

With the success of his translations, Deprats has illustrated that even the Babelish horror that we find in Shakespeare's multilingual Henry V can be tackled for the French stage to the satisfaction of all parties involved. But success in practice is not automatically a safe guide for academic practice. This applies to those Shakespearians who concern themselves with the playwright's work in translation, but also to representatives of Translation Studies, where Shakespeare's work in other languages often serves to illustrate translation theories. As Susan Bassnett sees it, the field of theatre translation, because of its great complexity, still remains undertheorized. (6) Clearly, there is room for more than Romy Heylen's highly innovative and exemplary work on the reception of French Hamlets on the French stage since the eighteenth century, devoting attention to versions by Jean-Francois Ducis, Alexandre Dumas, Andre Gide, Yves Bonnefoy, and Michel Vittoz in an attempt to draw up a model to read translation as a self-perpetuating process of acculturation.(7)

But the cultural turn in literary studies has also opened up alternative avenues into Shakespearian translation, such as the approach developed by Enza Minutella, who has studied four post-war translations into Italian of Romeo and Juliet, and concentrated in particular on the rendering of the opening sonnet spoken by the Chorus. (8) With a keen eye for detail, Minutella has compared the 1949 prose translation by Salvatore Quasimodo, the 1954 blank-verse translation for the stage, preserving the Shakespearian rhyme scheme, by Giuseppe Salvetti, Agostino Lombardo's reading text of 1994, and the curious version of the newsreader's Prologue in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 screen adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (here in Minutella's own transcription):

Fra due grandi famiglie la lotta si scatena Nella bella Verona Beach, dov'e la nostra scena. Dal loro antico odio nascono nuovi tumulti E il sangue di fratelli scorre dopo gli insulti. Figli di quei nemici senz'altra via d'uscita Due innamorati, segnati dalle stelle, si tologno la vita. La loro sorte amara si porta nella tomba nella tomba Dei due padri nemici la rabbia furibonda. La vicenda terribile di questo amore Dalla morte segnato, e dei loro parenti il tenace rancore, Che nulla potra estinguere se non la fine di questi figli nel dolore, Questo nostro teatro raccontera in due ore.

What on the surface may have the appearance of a comparison of different texts really represents a cultural history of the sonnet, fromits Petrarchan beginnings to Renaissance England (where variants were developed by Wyatt, Spenser, and Shakespeare), and back again to Italy during the age of the new media.

With these developments in the field of Shakespearian translation, we have come a long way from thinking that a translation might not be able to stand up to the original, or that the translator should automatically constitute a source of horror to the original creator. In a sense, therefore, it is sad that a successful film like Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003), which illustrates the newly acknowledged process of cultural translation in many interesting ways, would by means of its very title (applicable only in metaphorical terms) seem to revive the currency of a cliched phrase whose validity many translators of Shakespeare have long since left behind. Shakespeare is neither lost nor can be said to lose in translation any longer. Instead, the study of translation and culture has produced a refined instrument both to position and to appreciate the playwright in his various foreign linguistic guises and continually to explore new languages and sign systems to enhance the expression of whatever is mediated by Shakespeare's Early Modern English.

Shakespeare and his Adapters

In 1780 the German dramatist Johann Friedrich Schink (1755-1835) wrote a short play entitled Shakespeare in der Klemme. In it, we find the ghost of 'Schakespear' both in and out of Elysium. (10) All is not well in Elysium. Although Schakespear has long enjoyed peace and quiet in the company of canonical colleagues like Homer, Voltaire, and Corneille, as well as David Garrick, the ferryman Charon has now accidentally ferried across to Elysium the ghost of Jean-Francois Ducis, the infamous eighteenth-century French Shakespeare adapter, the successor to Voltaire at the Academie francaise who reworked to contemporary French tastes not just Shakespeare's Hamlet, but also Othello, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and King John. (11) Ducis, here introduced as 'monsieur D'U By', meets the ghost of Schakespear, who is appalled when confronted with this 'windbag' who has actually modernized Hamlet: 'O, all you host of heaven!', Schakespear exclaims in English before continuing in German (here back-translated for the sake of intelligibility): 'Modernized me, modernized my Hamlet! horrendous! [...]Oh, a Frenchman has translated my Hamlet.' (12) To his horror, the raging Schakespear soon hears that he is also extremely popular in Germany and, it almost goes without saying, in German translations: 'Whatever has a head on its shoulders and stands upright translates and acts your Hamlet', he is told. (13) When he hears that a group of Viennese boys will put on the play (an echo, surely, of the 'little eyases' in the 1601 tragedy), Schakespear undertakes a journey from Elysium to the Austrian capital. As a ghost (recalling the appearance of Hamlet's father) Schakespear fortunately manages to inspire the young actors with genuine fear, and after recommending the advice contained in Hamlet's famous speech to the players, the ghost of Schakespear returns to Elysium, granting the boys permission to put on his play.

In the case of Marbach's Shakespeare-Prometheus, the fictional Shakespeare was made to suffer the slings and arrows of translators working, however ineptly, within the Romantic tradition and judged wanting by Romantic criteria. The horrors that the playwright is made to face in Schink's comic playlet are obviously those created by the eighteenth-century adapter of his works. However, we should not forget that this is still also Shakespeare as perceived by a nineteenth-century writer and translator convinced that Ducis was the worst that could have happened to the bard. Nor must we overlook the fact that even though this perception of Shakespearian adaptations and the assessment of their merit as doubtful were to persist for almost another century, they have been changing rapidly since the 1970s, culminating, among other things, in Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier's landmark anthology entitled Adaptations of Shakespeare. (14)

Countering the dictum dating from the age that saw Shakespeare as the superscribe, namely that adaptations of his work ruined the plays, Fischlin and Fortier rightly stress that the normative, neoclassical adaptations by John Dryden, William Davenant, David Garrick, or Nahum Tate were not a token of irreverence towards Shakespeare but really ought to be recognized as a show of esteem for the playwright. As Fischlin and Fortier themselves put it with reference to adaptations of Shakespeare during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: 'respect was shown for Shakespeare precisely by rewriting him' (p. 1). It was the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century adapters who, by making Shakespeare '.t', tried to carve a niche for him in the canon as they envisaged it (without puns, bawdy or just playful, with a clear sense of audience and reader tastes, and with a pronounced sense of poetic justice).

Fischlin and Fortier certainly deserve praise for their joint effort in Adaptations of Shakespeare to theorize, map, and present Shakespeare in adaptation from the earliest times to the present day. However, it may also be noted that for their neoclassical, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century periods they exclusively reprint canonical materials of English origin: John Fletcher's sequel to Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, entitled The Woman's Prize; or, The Tamer Tamed (1611), and the canonical History of King Lear as rewritten by Nahum Tate (1680-81).

It might be argued that Fischlin and Fortier's omission of foreign, meaning originally non-English, materials from the eighteenth century was due to the limit of space imposed on any book project. From this perspective, the editors' own claim that the writers included in their anthology 'represent six countries (Britain, Spain, Germany, the United States, Canada, and South Africa)' could still be read as a form of deserved self-praise. However, a closer look at the entire Fischlin and Fortier project reveals that it is indeed limited in scope. This is suggested by the Web pages that were launched on the Internet together with the publication of the anthology in 2000. The relevant pages at introduce the anthology, invite communication with the two editors, and supply a truly long list of adaptations for each Shakespeare play or poem. Given the fact that the Routledge collection advertises itself as 'a broad choice of adapted texts from a range of historical moments and national sites', it is surely remarkable that for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the list contains only adaptations from English soil, and no continental European or other texts from abroad. In the case of the new Internet medium with its limitless possibilities, lack of space can no longer be used to explain or apologize for the failure to include foreign titles. Why, next to Davenant, Dryden, Garrick, and Tate, include Crowne, Betterton, Theobald, Otway, Dennis, Sheridan, Kemble, and a host of other seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scribblers, and not the Dutch poet Jan Vos, who adapted Titus in the 1630s, Lambert van den Bosch, who reworked Richard the Third in the 1640s, or Jean-Francois Ducis, Friedrich Ludwig Schroder, or Goethe and Schiller for that matter?

The problem with Routledge here seems structural. This is confirmed by the fact that since Fischlin and Fortier's Adaptations of Shakespeare, Routledge have also published Jeffrey Kahan's 3-volume set entitled Shakespeare Imitations, Parodies, and Forgeries. It contains such native materials as William Shirley's Edward the Black Prince (1750) and Thomas Hull's Henry II (1773), as well as William Henry Ireland's play on the subject, Richard Dodsley's Miller of Mansfield, and Joanne Baille's De Montfort (1800), but no foreign materials whatsoever. (15)

Clearly, where the representation of the eighteenth century in Fischlin and Fortier's anthology and in Jeffrey Kahan's collection is concerned, the traditional language barrier continues to prevail. Even when granting more critical space to the Shakespearian adaptation, the need for the translator armed with dictionaries and almost superhuman devotion remains, assuming, of course, that we all actually wish to understand the phenomenon of neoclassical adaptation in its broader European context.

One ignores continental Europe at one's peril because in many cases the other European materials tend to provide a valuable, contemporary complement to the native practice in England. A case in point is Hartogh van Savoij [The Duke of Savoy], a Dutch version of Davenant and Dryden's The Tempest; or, The Enchanted Island (London, 1670), dating from the 1720s. (16) In the course of a poetically sanctioned process of domestication, Prospero's island in the Dutch text was transformed into a hardly covert version of the Dutch Republic with a sandy rather than a rocky coast, although the inhabitants still display a love of the exotic, as in England. Reworking Shakespeare's Folio text, Davenant and Dryden preserved the following sequence:

What have we here, a Man, or a Fish? This is some monster of the Isle. Were I in England, as once I was, and had him painted; not a Holy-day Fool there but would give me sixpence for the sight of him: well, if I could make him tame, he were a present for an Emperour. (17)

The Dutch text (here back-translated into English) reads:

What may this be, a man or a fish? This is surely a monster of the island. If I were in Amsterdam now, as I once was, and only had this creature with me in some fairground game [or play] or other, I could draw the whole town to see him for twice as much money. (18)

Notably, like its Restoration model, the The Duke of Savoy is a deliberately repoliticized version of Shakespeare's Tempest. But the political interest in the Dutch adaptation is rather different from that of Davenant and Dryden, who, as Michael Dobson has demonstrated, deftly tuned the play to prop the patriarchal monarchy after over a decade of anxiety under Puritan rule. Prospero's last lines in The Duke of Savoy provide a key to the Dutch interest:

May henceforth this land be a safe shelter for oppressed virtue as it was for me. The promises of a blooming spring stay here for ever and ripe autumn fulfils that hope. With joyful sounds, with laughing happiness favour this beach [strand] and once again make flourish our enchanted land. (19)

Via Prospero's hope 'once again [to] make flourish [the] enchanted land', the play both captures and counters a then current sense of national malaise, as the conviction grew that the Dutch Republic had gone into decline after its Golden Age in the seventeenth century, not least because of constitutional problems involving the position of the Stadholder, whose hereditary ambitions clashed with the nation's original republican ideal. (20) It testifies to the flexibility of the Shakespearian original that the political interest of the English and that of the Dutch adaptations of The Tempest could not be further apart. Interestingly, too, what they share is a political interest of a narrow national stamp, making recent postcolonial explorations of the play that ignore its original Eurocentric nature look like particularly a-historical constructs. (21)

Beyond providing a near-contemporary though also clearly different complement to the native politicization of Shakespeare in England, foreign materials like the The Duke of Savoy are also capable of shedding light on matters bibliographical that are of interest to Dutch and English textual critics alike. In his recent analysis of the text that the Dutch translator and adapter used to produce The Duke of Savoy, namely Thomas Johnson's eighteenth-century edition of the Davenant and Dryden adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy, contained in the second volume of his Collection of the Best English Plays (The Hague, 1721-22), Theo Bogels rightly notes, among other things, that Johnson's edition, with the phrase 'First written by Mr. William Shakespear', reintroduces the man from Stratford on the title-page. Bogels further reveals that the Scotsman Johnson took great pains on behalf of Shakespeare to revise and restore certain passages in the Davenant and Dryden text, using one of the available Folio versions of The Tempest. (22)

Clearly, on one level, the joint case of Johnson's version of The Enchanted Island and The Duke of Savoy suggests that the English editorial revolution of the eighteenth century may well have got under way earlier than is generally assumed, and outside England too. On another level we note how, ironically, studying what we take to be adaptations of Shakespeare may on occasion turn out to be a return to Shakespeare rather than the proverbial move away. Is it--remembering Schink's Shakespeare in der Klemme--after all Shakespeare's ghost come from Elysium each time to inspire the reproduction of his work?

Shakespeare and his Critics

In Act ii, scene 2 of Christian Dietrich Grabbe's comedy entitled Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung (1822), the Devil describes hell. (23) Shakespeare, too, is said to be in hell. It is not clear why he should be there (although within the context of the German Prometheus tradition his residence there is not altogether improbable), but it is clear what he occupies himself with until the end of time. As the Devil explains: 'Shakspeare schreibt Erlauterungen zu Franz Horn' (ii. 2, p. 36). Shakespeare, he announces, is busy writing explanatory notes to Franz Horn, the German Shakespeare critic (1781-1837) who between 1823 and 1831 published five volumes of criticism entitled Shakspeare's Schauspiele erlautert (Leipzig: Brockhaus). (24) If anything, the situation in Grabbe's comedy, with the German Shakespeare critic rather unjustly presented as an obfuscator, is reminiscent of the way in which continental translation scholars devoting their time to the plays and the poems, despite hard and honest labour, were not always recognized by their English colleagues as furthering the general cause, if they were recognized as full-fledged members of the Shakespearian community at all. As it happens, this is the situation that prevailed until well into the 1990s, and it was really only at the International Shakespeare Conference (Stratford, 1994) that Inga-Stina Ewbank successfully drew attention to 'continental scholars' regret that the study of translations tended to be regarded by the Anglo-American community of Shakespeare scholars as "an interesting and harmless occupation for researchers abroad," irrelevant to mainline Shakespeare Studies'. (25) By way of an alternative, she suggested that if translation were recognized as a mode of cultural exchange, all Shakespearians would be able to profit from it. (26)

Some of the continental scholars who had inspired Ewbank, and whom she echoed, were Dirk Delabastita and Lieven D'hulst. In 1990 they had hosted the 'European Shakespeares' conference at the University of Antwerp's Higher Institute for Translators and Interpreters. Concentrating on the Romantic translation-as-appropriation of Shakespeare, the conference moved beyond the cases of French and German Shakespeare that had long received a privileged and isolated treatment, thus aiming, as the organizers put it in the introduction to their European Shakespeares, 'to contribute to the study of Shakespeare translations on a truly European scale'. (27) The landmark Antwerp conference was certainly successful in its primary objective. Nevertheless, the organizers felt called upon to end their assessment of the project on a critical note. Since Translation Studies had left behind its normative view of translation as one of linguistic transcoding, and had, instead, come to recognize translation as a complex process of cultural transfer, Delabastita and D'hulst considered that one could speak of a truly European initiative only if a form of exchange were developed with Britain. This, they felt, was not yet sufficiently the case. As a result, European Shakespeares presented itself 'not just as a supplement to recent Shakespeare Studies, but in a way as a critical comment on its British insularity'. (28) As Inga-Stina Ewbank was also happy to record in 2004, much has changed since the early 1990s, and the Cinderella of Shakespeare Studies (as the branch of Shakespearian translation studies was sometimes dubbed) has almost become a regular member of the household. The term 'almost' has been carefully selected, because as DirkDelabastita noted on the eve of the new millennium, it is astonishing that the Anglo-oriented Shakespeare industry still has not recognized Shakespearian translation as one of the so-called 'Alternative Shakespeares'. (29)

The new attitude among Shakespearians has opened up a vast new .eld to be explored. It has, among other things, made us aware of the fact that Shakespearian translation practice also plays a vital role in Britain, where it is not limited to intersemiotic translation from the page to the stage, or to signing Shakespeare to audiences who are hard of hearing. Translation, we have come to recognize, also plays a role in the process of devolution between England and the rest of Britain. During the period leading up to the political emancipation of Scotland in the early 1990s, for example, as England's northern neighbour was preparing for the foundation of a Scottish parliament with extensive though not unlimited powers (ultimately realized in May 1999), both David Purves and Robin L. C. Lorimer completed the difficult (albeit self-appointed) task of translating Shakespeare's Macbeth into Scots (both published in 1992). Reappropriating Shakespeare's 'Scottish' play, they achieved a linguistic victory, demonstrating that Scots was not a dialect but a language in its own right, a language eminently capable of making the Scottish king speak again with his original force and elegance. This is Lorimer's rendering of Macbeth's dagger speech:</p> <pre> What's this I see afore my een--a bityach,

heftit towart my haund? Come, let me cleik ye-- I grip ye no, but ey can see ye yet! Ar ye, weird vision, oniething at may as weill be titcht as seen? Or ar ye but a bityach o the mind, a fenyit craitur ingenrit o the heat-afflickit harns?(30) </pre> <p>And this is how Purves opens the soliloquy:</p> <pre> Is this a dirk A see afore me; the haunil at ma haund? Cum lat me grup ye! A canna feel ye an it seems ye are nae mair nor a dirk that's in ma mynd, a fanton norie in ma fevert brain. (31) </pre> <p>However, Purves's rendering of the play also makes old Siward respond to the death of his son at the end of the play as follows:</p> <pre> Aweill, lat him be ane o God's sojers nou! Gin A head as monie sons as A hae hairs on ma heid, A wadna want a fairer death for onie o thaim. His bell is jowed an than an end o it. (v. 7) </pre> <p>Beyond conveying the Shakespearian potential of the Scottish language, a passage of this kind, presenting an English character speaking Scots, ironically makes us aware that Shakespeare, in his pursuit of what is known as linguistic homogenization, unrealistically perhaps made all of his characters speak Early Modern English. As a consequence, this passage from Purves reveals the exact reverse of the political move that Shakespeare made with his strategy of linguistic homogenization: Shakespeare's act of political appropriation when he took the Macbeth story is here translated into a no less blatant act of political translation on the part of Purves in the 1990s. Translation is always political, and Purves inevitably seems to soil his hands as his linguistic appropriation mimics Shakespeare's. Recognizing the cleft stick in which Purves caught himself, one also appreciates how Lorimer in his translation of Macbeth managed to avoid the problem. He opted for the translator's main alternative to homogenization, namely the pursuit of mimetic accuracy, by making Old Siward address his Scottish auditory in English:</p> <pre> Then let him be God's soldier. Had I a many sons as I've got hairs,

I could not wish for them a better death. So now his knell's been tolled. (v. 7) (32) </pre> <p>Translation as part of a process of national self-assertion may occur in various different guises, and again the history of Britain is not excluded here. Few students of English are unfamiliar with John of Gaunt's famous speech in Richard II where the dying man describes England as:</p> <pre> This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall,

Or as a moat defensive to a house Against the envy of less happier lands; This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,

This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings, Feared by their breed and famous by their birth, Renowned for their deeds as far from home For Christian service and true chivalry As is the sepulchre, in stubborn Jewry, Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's son; This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land, Dear for her reputation through the world. [...] (33) </pre> <p>Interestingly, the idea of 'England' here advanced by Shakespeare is derived not from Shakespeare's own imagination but from a translated text, John Eliot's Ortho-Epia Gallica (1593), a French language manual providing, in parallel-text format, the French original and the English translation that appealed to Shakespeare. On this occasion, it was Eliot's translation of La Seconde Sepmaine (1584), the second part of Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas's creation poem, which appealed to Shakespeare, which in the original ran as follows:</p> <pre> Ha, France [...] O mille et mille fois terre heureuse et feconde! O perle de l'Europe! o paradis du monde! France, je te salue, o mere des guerriers, Qui jadis ont plante leurs triomphans lauriers Sur les rives d'Euphrate, et sanglante leur glaive Ou la torche du jour et se couche et se leve. (34) </pre> <p>John Eliot rendered it as:</p> <pre> O Fruitfull France! most happie Land, happie and happie thrice! O pearle of rich European bounds! O earthly Paradise! All haile sweet soile! O France the mother of many conquering knights, Who planted once their glorious standards like the triumphing wights Upon the banks of Euphrates where Titan day-torch bright, Riseth. (35) </pre> <p>Comparing Eliot and Shakespeare, we observe that where Eliot translates the literary source from French into English, Shakespeare translates the nation praised from France to 'England'. Interestingly, in recent years countless critics have charged Shakespeare with mistranslation here: his definition of 'England' would be an ideological construct whereby the nation erroneously subsumes under it both Wales and Scotland. (36) These critics are right only to a degree. The vision with which Shakespeare endows John of Gaunt was really a proto-British one still in the course of development. This is shown by the translation of Du Bartas produced by Joshua Sylvester, as it appeared in 1605, two years into the reign of James I, who was also the sixth of that name in Scotland. Here, the territory alluded to is the same as in Shakespeare, but the geographical term chosen considerably more precise:</p> <pre> All-haile (deere ALBION) Europes Pearle of price, The Worlds rich Garden, Earths rare Paradice:

Thrice-happy Mother, which aye bringest-forth Such Chivalry as daunteth all the Earth, (Planting the Trophies of thy glorious Armes

By Sea and Land, where euer Titan warmes). (37) </pre> <p>What we witness here--as France becomes England (the island) and as the island becomes Albion (comprising England, Scotland, and Wales)--is a complex process that may well be described as a northern European variant of the classical 'translation of empire'. Naturally, it involves traditional, interlinguistic translation from French into English, and intra- or endolinguistic translation from one version of English into another. Significantly, too, the process does not take place on the traditional verbal level only. It is a process to be appreciated in more broadly cultural terms, along the lines sketched by Jonathan Bate, who works under the conviction that 'art' ought to be seen as 'a translation of life into special languages with codes of their own', a process initiating further translations that 'take their life from a hermaphroditic mingling of multiple agencies--not only translators in the strict sense of bilingual talents, but also all writers, actors and directors, readers and interpreters, who are bold enough to "in" the very imagination and the true conceit of the authors they admire.' (38) Returning to the examples discussed above, we may say that in Richard II Shakespeare, via John of Gaunt, '"in[s]" the very imagination and the true conceit' of the proto-nationalist Du Bartas, who, as his creation poem reveals, expressed the imaginative boost to France's self-esteem after the English, in January 1558, surrendered Calais, their last toehold on the European Continent, to the French.

On one level, these examples suggest that, perhaps, after years of studying the concept of 'writing the nation', it is time now to consider more seriously the notion of 'translating the nation' with our focus firmly on England and Englishness, as has been suggested also by Roger Ellis and Liz Oakley-Brown. (39) On another level, they indicate that the emphasis on Shakespeare in this article creates a rather distorted picture of the early modern period. Clearly, Shakespeare's practice in Richard II would have been unthinkable, and the true politico-cultural resonance of Gaunt's lines ungraspable to us, without the seminal work of Shakespeare's contemporaries, the translators John Eliot and Joshua Sylvester. If the topic of Shakespeare and/in translation has managed to gain adult status, the same cannot be said of Renaissance translation in general. As Warren Boutcher has recently put it with reference to our study of the way in which the Renaissance came to England via translation:

In the last 50 years [...] central discussion of this process has been marginal to English Renaissance studies. Critics of the era of modernism, a movement itself centred in creative polyglot translation, were the last fully to appreciate its importance. In the postwar period, most Tudor and early Stuart translations have returned to something like the obscurity they suffered before late Victorian editors republished them for the first time in centuries. (40)

Fortunately, developments in Translation Studies inspire one with great confidence about the future, as young scholars begin to follow the direction of historical translation in English Studies. A case in point is Liz Oakley-Brown's recent study of the translation into English of the literary text par excellence, Ovid's Metamorphoses. (41) Hers is a felicitous contextualization of Ovid's imagery and language and its various renderings in English, showing the gradual emergence in translation of the Protestant subject during the early years of Queen Elizabeth's reign.

Current interest in Shakespeare and/in translation reveals how research under this banner may creatively be conducted into matters linguistic, their political realities, and, beyond, into the broader cultural issues raised by this process, both in Britain and abroad. Like the definition of the term 'culture', that of 'translation' has been stretched endlessly over the past decades. If, on the one hand, we can observe that more researchers than ever have come to accept that the term 'translation' may cover a multitude of virtues, it also seems appropriate, on the other hand, to recognize that, perhaps, translation has, by analogy to Terry Eagleton's remark about culture, 'expanded to the point of meaninglessness'. (43) One of the challenges for the decade that lies ahead of us, therefore, would seem to be the search for a more focused rapport between the 'translation' of the literary text and the 'culture' of which it is part.

(1) Oswald Marbach, Shakespeare-Prometheus: Phantastisch-Satirisches Zauberspiel vor dem Hollenrachen ohne Raum und ohne Zeit im Dammerschein der Ewigkeit (Leipzig: Naumann, 1874).

(2) 'Er wetteiferte mit dem Prometheus, bildete ihm Zug vor Zug seine Menschen nach, nur in kolossalischer Grosse' (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Schriften zur Kunst, ed. by Erich Trunz and Herbert von Einem, in Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe, 14 vols (Munich: DTV, 1998), xii, 224-27 (p. 227).

(3) See Christian Dietrich Grabbe, * Uber die Shakspearo-Manie (1827), in Werke und Briefe, ed. by Alfred Bergmann, 6 vols (Emsdetten: Lette, 1960-73), iv (1966), 29-55; and Roderich Benedix, Die Shakespearomanie: Zur Abwehr (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1873). Ironically, one of Grabbe's notions was that loving Shakespeare in Germany had been made too easy by seventy years of criticism and translation. On Grabbe's love-hate relationship with Shakespeare, see also Peter Hasubek, 'Grabbes "kritische" Liebe zu Shakespeare: Der Essay " "Uber die Shakespearo-Manie" als Antwort auf die Shakespeare-Rezeption in den ersten Jahrzehnten des 19. Jahrhunderts', in Grabbe und die Dramatiker seiner Zeit: Beitrage zum II. Internationalen Grabbe-Symposium 1989, ed. by Detlev Kopp and Michael Vogt (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1990), pp. 45-74.

(4) Yves Bonnefoy, Shakespeare and the French Poet, ed. with an introduction by John Naughton (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2004), p. 255.

(5) Jean-Michel Deprats, 'A French History of Henry V', in Shakespeare's History Plays: Performance, Translation and Adaptation in Britain and Abroad, ed. By Ton Hoenselaars, with a foreword by Dennis Kennedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 75-91 (pp. 88-89); cf. Roman Jakobson, 'On Linguistic Aspects of Translation', in On Translation, ed. by R. A. Brower (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), pp. 232-39.

(6) Susan Bassnett, 'Theatre and Opera', in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, ed. by Peter France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 96-103.

(7) Romy Heylen, Translation, Poetics, and the Stage: Six French 'Hamlets' (London and New York: Routledge, 1993).

(8) 'Translating Romeo and Juliet: The Sonnet Moves Back to Italy', in Bridges and Boundaries: Warwick Working Papers in Cultural Studies, ed. by Suradech Chotiudompant and Enza Minutella (Coventry: Centre for Translation and Comparative Literature Studies, University of Warwick, 2002), pp. 61-70.

(9) This discussion of the fortunes of the opening sonnet in Romeo and Juliet is only part of Enza Minutella's work for her doctoral thesis at the University of Warwick.

(10) Shakespeare in der Klemme, oder Wir wollen doch auch den Hamlet spielen: Ein Vorbereitungsspiel zur Vorstellung des Hamlet durch Kinder von Schink [Shakespeare trapped, or We also want to put on Hamlet: A preparatory play for a production of Hamlet by the children of (Johann Friedrich) Schink] (Vienna: Joseph Gerold, 1780). I am grateful to Andreas Hofele (University of Munich) for drawing my attention to the play, and for lending me his copy.

(11) John Golder, Shakespeare for the Age of Reason: The Earliest Stage Adaptations of Jean-Francois Ducis, 1769-1792 (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1992), as well as his '"Mon Sans-Culotte Africain": A French Revolutionary Stage Othello', in Shakespeare World Views, ed. by Heather Kerr, Robin Eaden, and Madge Mitton (Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1996), pp. 146-55. See also Heylen, Translation, Poetics, and the Stage.

(12) 'O, all you host of heaven! mich modernisiert, meinen Hamlet modernisiert!--abscheulich! [...] Ach, ein Franzose [sic] hat meinen Hamlet ubersetzt' (pp. 129-30).

(13) 'was Kopf und Fu hat ubersetzt und agirt deinen Hamlet' (p. 132).

(14) Adaptations of Shakespeare: A Critical Anthology of Plays from the Seventeenth Century to the Present, ed. By Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 1.

(15) Shakespeare Imitations, Parodies and Forgeries: Subcultures and Subversions, 1750-1850, ed. by Jeffrey Kahan, 3 vols (London and New York: Routledge, 2004).

(16) For a detailed discussion of Davenant and Dryden's play, see Michael Dobson, The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation, and Authorship, 1660-1769 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), and Jean I. Marsden, The Re-Imagined Text: Shakespeare, Adaptation, and Eighteenth-Century Literary Theory (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995).

(17) The Tempest; or, The Enchanted Island. A Comedy. First written by Mr. William Shakespear. & Since Altered by Sr. William Davenant and Mr. John Dryden, ed. by Thomas Johnson (London: Printed for the Company, 1721-22), Royal Library, The Hague, shelf mark 849 A 2:2:4 (ii. 2, p. 34).

(18) The manuscript, as yet unedited and unpublished, reads: 'wat of dit weezen Sal een Man of een vis dit is geewis een Monster van 't Eylant was ik nu te amsterdam geelijk ik eens geewest bin en had Maer dees Schepsel Mee in 't een of 't ander Kermis Spel Soud ik de heelle Stat wel kunnen trecken om hem te Sien op dobbeld gelt' (Hartogh van Savoij, municipal library of Haarlem(shelf mark 187 B 37), p. 23).

(19) 'Mag nu voortaen dit land een vyligh SchuijL [sic] plaes Zijnvoor de beedruckte deughd geelyk het was voor Mijn debee lofften van een bloeiend lent blijfft eevigh hier en rype herfts [sic] ver vult die hoop met blijt geetier met Laghende geeluck beegunstigh togh dit Strand en doet Nogh een floorreeren ons beetoverdt Land' (Hartogh, p. 82).

(20) On the Dutch Republic's economic decline since the Golden Age see Rene van Stipriaan, Het volle leven: Nederlandse literatuur en cultuur ten tijde van de Republiek (circa 1550-1800) (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2002), pp. 271-72. Van Stipriaan speaks of 'an endless stream of satiric texts, for which a certain general sense of malaise appears to have been the main breeding ground' from about 1700 (p. 272), about the Dutch Enlightenment being characterized by 'concern about the deplorable state of the nation' (p. 279), and about 'nostalgia for the golden age of yore' expressed in pamphlets and occasional poetry written for and against the Stad holder William IV and the regents around 1748 (p. 282). For a more detailed discussion of The Duke of Savoy see Ton Hoenselaars and Frank van Meurs, 'The Haarlem Manuscript of Hartogh van Savoij: An Eighteenth-Century Dutch Translation of The Tempest: Or the Enchanted Island', in Shakespeare in the Low Countries, ed. by Ton Hoenselaars, Holger Klein, and Douglas Brooks, Shakespeare Yearbook, 13 (Lewiston, NY: Mellen, forthcoming).

(21) An exception to the tendency to read The Tempest as a postcolonial text is Paul Franssen, 'Canute or Neptune? The Dominion of the Seas and Two Versions of The Tempest', Cahiers elisab ethains, 57 (2000), 79-94.

(22) Theo Bogels, '"Fit for the pocket': Thomas Johnson's Edition of The Tempest', in Shakespeare and the Low Countries (see Hoenselaars and van Meurs, above).

(23) Christian Dietrich Grabbe, Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung: Ein Lustspiel in drei Aufzugen, with an afterword and notes by Alfred Bergmann (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1978).

(24) On the reputation of Franz Horn see Roger Paulin, The Critical Reception of Shakespeare in Germany, 1682-1914:Native Literature and Foreign Genius (Hildesheim: Olms, 2003), pp. 387-88.

(25) Foreword to Shakespeare and the Language of Translation, ed. by Ton Hoenselaars, with a foreword by Inga-Stina Ewbank, The Arden Shakespeare (London: Thomson Learning, 2004), p. ix.

(26) Inga-Stina Ewbank, 'Shakespeare Translation as Cultural Exchange', Shakespeare Survey, 48 (1995), 1-12.

(27) European Shakespeares: Translating Shakespeare in the Romantic Age, ed. by Dirk Delabastita and Lieven D'hulst (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: Benjamins, 1993), p. 12.

(28) European Shakespeares, p. 21.

(29) Dirk Delabastita, 'More Alternative Shakespeares', in 400 Years of Shakespeare in Europe, ed. by Angel Luis Pujante and Ton Hoenselaars, with a foreword by Stanley Wells (Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 2003), pp. 113-33.

(30) Robin L. C. Lorimer, Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' Translated into Scots (Edinburgh: Canongate Press, 1992), ii. 1.

(31) The Tragedie o Macbeth, a rendering into Scots of Shakespeare's play by David Purves, foreword by Paul Scott (Edinburgh: Rob Roy Press, 1992), ii. 1.

(32) There is also an extract from Macbeth in Scots by Edwin Morgan in his Rites of Passage (Manchester: Carcanet New Press, 1976), pp. 82-83. The reappropriating tendency here has close anities with the postcolonial trend in literary studies, which also explains the parallels between the translation of Shakespeare into Scots and into Quebecois. For a detailed assessment of the translations by Purves and Lorimer, see J. Derrick McClure, 'Scots for Shakespeare', in Shakespeare and the Language of Translation, pp. 217-39. See also J. Derrick McClure, 'When Macbeth Becomes Scots', in Ilha do Desterro (Florianopolis, Brazil), 36 (January-June 1999), 29-51; and David Kinloch, 'Questions of Status: Macbeth in Quebecois and Scots', The Translator, 8 (2002), 73-100.

(33) William Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), ii. 1. 40-58.

(34) Michel Braspart, Du Bartas: poete chretien (Neuchatel and Paris: Delachaux and Niestle, 1947), p. 150.

(35) John Eliot, Ortho-Epia Gallica (1593), quoted in William Shakespeare, Richard II, ed. by Peter Ure, Arden Shakespeare, 2nd Series (London: Methuen, 1961), p. 206.

(36) See, for example, Willy Maley, '"This Sceptred Isle": Shakespeare and the British Problem', in Shakespeare and National Culture, ed. by John J. Joughin (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), pp. 83-108.

(37) Joshua Sylvester, Devine Weeks and Works (1605), quoted in Richard II, ed. by Ure, p. 207.

(38) Jonathan Bate, 'Elizabethan Translation', in Translating Life: Studies in Transpositional Aesthetics, ed. by Shirley Chew and Alistair Stead (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999), pp. 33-51 (pp. 50-51).

(39) See the editors' introduction to Translation and Nation: Towards a Cultural Politics of Englishness, ed. By Roger Ellis and Liz Oakley-Brown, Topics in Translation, 18 (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 2001), pp. 1-6.

(40) Warren Boutcher, 'The Renaissance', in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, ed. by Peter France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 45-55 (pp. 45-46).

(41) Liz Oakley-Brown, 'Translating the Subject: Ovid's Metamorphoses in England, 1560-7', in Translation and Nation (see Ellis and Oakley-Brown, above), pp. 48-84.

(42) Terry Eagleton, The Idea of Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), p. 131.


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Author:Hoenselaars, Ton
Publication:Yearbook of English Studies
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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