Early in 2016, Prof. Angela Tiziana Tarantini (Monash University) and Chris Griffiths completed an analysis of a 1924 Italian translation of Coriolanus and Julius Caesar. Their analysis addressed how the depiction of Rome in the translation of Shakespeare was used in support of fascist ideology in the early 1920s. The translation features a critical introduction by scholar Giuseppe de Lorenzo, which outlines a intriguing argument in which the Senecan ideal that Shakespeare found in the heroes of the Plutarch and Livy is held to be synonymous with the emerging fascist ideals of the period.
by Jessica Trevitt
I recently undertook a German>English collaborative translation with Dr Madeleine Bieg, and a prominent part of the experience was the opportunity it afforded me to learn some basic German. We translated 155 items proposed for a survey in the field of educational psychology, and with each item we took it in turns to read the German aloud. When Madeleine read I listened carefully to her pronunciation, and when I read I would emulate her and she would correct me where necessary. She would then explain roughly in English what the item meant, while I typed out a suggested revision of her translation on a shared screen. We would then negotiate a final version by clarifying for each other the nuances of the source and target items to ensure we were both satisfied. Over time, this process helped me learn some basic elements of German grammar, such as the capitalisation of nouns, and I began to recognise repeated vocabulary and sentence structures. Toward the end of the four months I found I was able to start suggesting rough English translations myself.
by Jessica Trevitt
Dr Madeleine Bieg and I have completed a translation from German into English for Madeleine’s research in the field of educational psychology. Working via Skype between Germany and Australia, we met for one hour every week for four months; this was enough time to move through 155 items proposed for a survey of secondary school students. The survey is intended to investigate the students’ emotional attitudes toward their choice of subjects at school, and while it will be conducted using the original German items, our English translations will be used as the research team’s official translation for the purposes of dissemination in Anglophone contexts. We are in the final stages of finalising the target text, and will share more news once it’s ready for circulation!
By Chris Griffiths
I am currently collaborating with Dr Madeleine Bieg to translate German scholarship on the reception of Shakespeare. Our current piece concerns the “controversial” translations of Hans Rothe in the twentieth century. This piece will be completed and submitted for publication by early 2017.
Meanwhile, Dr Birgit Oehle and I have been investigating Dorothea Tieck’s nineteenth-century translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Tieck was the daughter of Ludwig Tieck, who, with August Schlegel, was among the most prominent of German translators of Shakespeare. Hers were the first full German translation of all 154 sonnets; the previous translator of the sonnets, Karl Lachmann, had omitted sonnets 134, 135 and 151 on the grounds that they were untranslatable (in relation to the two former) and obscene (in reference to the latter).
We may conduct our analysis of these pieces using Jessica Trevitt’s “triangulated” methodology, which attempts to deconstruct the “source-target” binary of mainstream translation studies by identifying other cultural forces that impact on translations processes. We may propose, for example, that the key cultural relationship of these translations was not between the source-English and target-German, but rather Germany’s reaction against French classicis, which prompted an embrace of the Germanic naturalism of Shakespeare.
The Shakespeare Library, LMU, Munich.
By Chris Griffiths
In late July 2016, Dr Birgit Oehle and I spent some productive days doing research at the Munich Shakespeare Library at LMU in Munich. We uncovered materials relating to the history of German translations of Shakespeare, and came up with a number of interesting pieces of German Shakespeare scholarship that have not been translated. Some of these will be translated in collaboration by myself and Birgit, and with students enrolled in German studies at Warwick. All of these pieces represent different levels of difficulty in translation (scholarly and archaic language is a significant obstacle, even for fluent speakers), and we are considering the possibility of a collected volume of these translations for Anglophone Shakespeare scholars.
Thanks and acknowledgements are due to Bettina Boecker and the staff at the Munich Shakespeare Library for their kind assistance in our endeavours.