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Ian Fairley (University of Leeds)

Untranslatable Wordsworth?

In this paper I wish to think about translation as a word and as a practice in Wordsworth's poetry. My first point of reference is what Coleridge says about the "infallible test of a blameless style" being "its untranslatableness in words of the same language without injury to the meaning" (Biographia Literaria). I am interested in how this proposition advances an understanding of Wordsworth, in how "untranslatableness" engages the Unubertragbarkeit of Romantic hermeneutics, and in what each question may have to do with the other. The transalpine touchstone of The Prelude VI is central to my concerns: "And all the answers which the Man returned / To our inquiries, in their sense and substance, / Translated by the feelings which we had, / Ended in this; that we had crossed the Alps." This might be deemed a moment of untranslatable translation; it is a passage which, in any case, I hope to read with these terms in mind. I shall suggest that another form of passage, into the voice of "a man speaking to men", is intimated here, and that it invites reflection on the distinction made in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads between the poet and the (by implication) "unmanly" translator who "substitutes excellences of another kind for those which are unattainable by him". Here it may be fruitful to attend to Wordsworth's translation of the "Lei - gha - Lei - gha" spoken by "The Blind Highland Boy": "'Keep away, / And leave me to myself!'"

I come from Edinburgh. I teach literature part-time at the University of Leeds and work part-time as a therapeutic counsellor and counselling supervisor. I have translated two books of poetry by Paul Celan: Fadensonnen/Fathomsuns (2001) and Schneepart/Snow Part (2007), published by Carcanet in this country and Sheep Meadow in the USA.

Laura Fasick (Minnesota State University, Moorhead)

Translating Shakespeare's English into Modern Teen

Shakespeare's plays have been taught for centuries as examples of the greatest English language poetry as well as drama, yet increasingly those plays have been criticized for racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism. Indeed, some academics now propose that we should abandon teaching the plays altogether because of that offensiveness. Shakespeare's defenders often argue that Shakespeare's poetry is so rich, so multi-layered, so human that it gives humanity and dignity even to characters, such as Othello or the Shrew Kate, who might otherwise seem merely racist or sexist constructions. What, then, are we to make of modern film versions of Shakespeare's plays that "update" Shakespeare's plots to the present day and put his characters' speech into modern language? In interviews and press releases the makers of these films frequently represent their projects as providing Shakespeare to today's teenagers with only such "translation" into modern speech as makes the plays more accessible to audiences unfamiliar with Elizabethan English. Certainly my own experience teaching Shakespeare's plays has been filled with students who argue that these modern-language movies are Shakespeare, giving them an exactly equivalent experience to the original plays. Examining such contemporary film adaptations of Shakespeare as O (Othello) and Ten Things I Hate about You (The Taming of the Shrew), however, suggests that these attempts to make Shakespeare not only "accessible" but also politically acceptable to modern teen audiences radically alter the characters, relationships, and implications of the plays by the altered language in key speeches.

Laura Fasick received her doctorate in English Literature from Indiana University at Bloomington in 1990. She is now Professor of English at Minnesota State University Moorhead in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has published two scholarly books and numerous articles.

Sarah Fekadu (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen)

Ezra Pound's Intermedial Translations

Ezra Pound's acquaintance with the art of the troubadours while studying romance philology served not only as a stimulus for the poetic innovations that made him one of the most important modernist poets, but also had a considerable impact on at least two aspects of his poetics: first, it led him to a redefinition of the ideal of poetic translation in the twentieth century; second, it nurtured his desire to reinvent poetry through the "musicalisation" of the poetic line, an ideal that he saw perfectly embodied in the combination of words and sound - motz et son - in troubadour poetry. Hence, the chief challenge for Pound when translating the verses of the troubadours into English was to make the sound and rhythm inherent in their oral art 'heard' through language. My paper sets out to highlight some of the characteristic features of Pound's translations of the troubadours with a strong focus on the question how music can be translated into words and how this affects generic issues. By comparing some of Pound's translations of Arnaut Daniel and Guido Cavalcanti to his opera The Testament of Francois Villon, whose radio version was broadcasted by the BBC in 1931, my aim is to show that both poetry and opera can be seen as contributions to an experiment that could be entitled "intermedial translation". While in translating the troubadours, Pound tried to incorporate music into the medium of language, whereas he literally crossed the boundary between language and music in his lesser known work as an opera composer.

Sarah Fekadu is doing her PhD in English literature at the University of Munich (Germany) under the supervision of Prof. Tobias Döring. Her research interests are in the relationship between music and literary modernism. In her thesis, she analyses musico-literary intermediality in the works of Ezra Pound and Virginia Woolf.