Abstracts

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Abstracts-G



Kopal Gautam (University of Essex)


T.S. Eliot and Cultural Translation

In his act of employing a variety of languages from ancient Greek and Latin to Sanskrit and Hindi in The Waste Land; and in his use of certain Hindu religious concepts in Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot can be best described as a cultural translator. Cultural translation, rather than being a process which renders the words of a source language into those of the target language, is essentially a process which involves the movement of words and concepts from one cultural context to another. Following Schleiermacher, it is proposed that Eliot, in his act of translation, moves the reader towards the source language rather than moving the source language towards the reader. A consequence of such a movement is that the Western reader has generally failed fully to understand the import of certain words that have inescapable cultural connotations attached to them. In The Waste Land, for example, these words and their connotations, when viewed from an Indian perspective, may be considered as integral to the scheme of the poem as a whole. Working within such a framework, this paper will examine the function of Sanskrit words in the fifth section of The Waste Land; as well as the concepts of action and suffering, as expounded by the Bhagavad Gita, and assimilated in Four Quartets.


Kopal Gautam is a PhD student in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. She received her Master's degree from the University of Delhi, India in 2007. Her research is engaged with exploring Hindu and Buddhist religious and philosophical references in the works of Yeats, Eliot, Forster and other Modernist writers. She is also interested in the use of inter-textuality in Modernist works; and Post-Colonial theory.



Patrick Gill (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz)


Dylan Thomas's Wordplay: A Test Case for the Translation of Poetry?

If it is indeed the case that, as Robert Frost would have it, "[p]oetry is what gets lost in translation", punning and wordplay pose a particularly daunting challenge to any translator. Due to the difference in resources afforded him by the language he translates from and the language he translates into, the translator will usually find himself unable to transfer all the potential meanings of a given poem into the target language. Thus translations of wordplay always constitute an act of selection and, implicitly, an act of interpretation. This paper discusses the choices made by German and Spanish translators of Dylan Thomas's poetry when faced with instances of the Welsh poet's ubiquitous punning. Investigating the various strategies on display in these translators' responses to wordplay of all sorts, it argues that translations of poetry are only ever to be seen as instances of creative reception and thus as texts referring to other texts rather than as texts supplanting other texts, an assumption implicitly challenging Samuel Johnson's idea that "[t]ranslations are, in general, for people who cannot read the original" and positing that the translation of poetry must of necessity be perceived as a distinct textual genre.


Patrick Gill, a lecturer at Mainz University's Department of English and Linguistics, has recently completed his PhD thesis on the theory and history of literary ambiguity with particular reference to the work of Dylan Thomas. He teaches English poetry of all ages and has been course convenor for translation classes at his home university since 2004.



Peter Groves (Monash University)


Translating Metre(s)

The metre, the systematic rhythmical organization of a poetic text, is something that any translation should at least attempt to reproduce. We sometimes think of metre as pure form and therefore easily transported, but metrical form can only be embodied in the phonology (not to mention pragmatics and syntax) of this or that particular language: the metrical organisation of tone-categories in classical Chinese poetry, for example, is impossible to reproduce in (say) English. There are three ways in which metrical systems may be translated across cultural and linguistic boundaries: the structuralist, the formalist and the impressionist. The impressionist interpreter simply attempts to reproduce in the target prosody what s/he thinks s/he hears in the source prosody. The formalist, by contrast, attempts to reproduce what s/he knows or believes to be the formal features of the source line, with no regard for any phonological differences there may be between the target prosody and the source prosody: English haiku measured by syllables are formalist in this sense. The most sophisticated approach is the structuralist, which recognises both the abstract pattern of the source metre and the particularities of its phonological embodiment, and attempts to reproduce that pattern in the prosodic material of the target language, recognising that (as in the case of translation itself) all you can ever hope to achieve is a kind of approximation. This paper will look at the problem (and its various attempts at solution) in particular with regard to the accommodation of classical quantitative metres in English.


Peter Groves was educated in the UK at the universities of Exeter and Cambridge, and now teaches Renaissance English literature and English poetry at Monash University, Melbourne, where he co-edits the e-journal Versification: an Electronic Journal of Literary Prosody. He has published a monograph and a number of articles on the subject of metre and versification, and has a particular interest in the problems of literary translation.



Chelsea Gunter (New York University)


"I never saw a Moor": Paul Celan's translation of Emily Dickinson into German

For Paul Celan, a jewish poet writing in German after the second world war, to adequately describe his experience of the holocaust required that he reinterpret his native language, to, as Anne Carson writes in Economy of the Unlost, approach his language as though translating. To describe what he lived, traditional translation from other language poets provided the ultimate exercise and mine for material. Celan's translation of Emily Dickinson's "I never saw a Moor" not only expresses the original's conceit, but renders the poem's mode of signification into the verse and syntax of the German idiom, while challenging translation as the ultimate test of how meaning inheres in language. Dickinson's "I never saw a Moor" professes, by syllogism, that faith is stronger than experience, predicated on the speaker's unfamiliarity with the natural world. That faith could be as transparent as the poem suggests, that the importance of experience should be so elided, is, for Celan, ironic. Through syntatic structures such as parataxis and chiasmus, and by leveraging distinctions in the German language that English does not have, such as wissen/kennen and als/wenn, his translation creates an emptiness where one would think to find a space that is as grounded as the apparent logic of the original. This emptiness in Celan's version, emptiness at the site of faith, is representative of his attempt to imagine the inconceivable that had occurred in his community. Faith is, ultimately, not greater than experience; the ambiguities of Celan's version were not apparent in the language that Emily Dickinson knew and used.


Ms. Gunter is a graduate student at New York University in the department of English. Her research focuses on post-WWII German and English poets and their responses to the war. She has worked as a German language consultant for Microsoft, and is a United States Army Reservist. Ms. Gunter received her BA in English Literature from the University of Washington, and is currently working on a translation of Cyprian Norwid's Vade - Mecum.