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Shakespeare’s Hamlet/Hamlet, Shakespeare 3.0, and Tugged Hamlet, The Comic Prince of The Polish Cabaret POTEM

Abstract

Shakespeare’s dramas are potentialities. Any Hamlet may be understood as the space in which Shakespeare’s thoughts are remembered, as a reproduced copy of the unspecified, unidentified source, the so called original. Simultaneously, it may be conceived of as the space where Shakespeare’s legacy and authority is tested, trifled and transgressed. Nowadays Shakespeare’s dramas are disseminated in multifarious forms such as: printed materials, audio and video recordings, compact audio discs, digital videos and disc recordings. Since I am fond of the cultural phenomenon called Hamlet, not a singe text or performance, but a continuum of human interaction with intermediated and transcoded versions of the drama, in this article I focus on the abovementioned single play. I accentuate the title character’s profound meaning in Shakespeare studies and his iconic status in Western culture in different media. I exploit W.B. Worthen’s concept of “Shakespeare 3.0.” to demonstrate Shakespeare’s presence in digital reality on the example of a comic rendering of Hamlet (Tugged Hamlet, 1992) by the Polish cabaret POTEM. Their cabaret sketch, although it was not created for the Internet audience, is available on-line via YouTube, consituting “Shakespeare 3.0.” Furthermore, I pose several questions and attempt to answer them in the course of my analysis: to what extent does the image of a mournful and contemplative Hamlet pervade different dimensions of culture, especially our collective imagination?; what chances of realization has a cultural fantasy of challenging the myth of a witty and contemplative Hamlet when re-written and presented as a pastiche or satire?; was the Polish cabaret POTEM succesful in their comic performance?

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Theatre Reviews
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Whose authority may I ask? Polish, English, German, Shakespearean or directorial? On the boundaries between ethnicity, nationality, religion and theatricality in Jan Klata’s Shakespearean productions

Abstract

Jan Klata is a director who has been labelled a provocateur and who is considered to hold nothing cultural or national sacred. From the beginning of his artistic career he is said to have challenged authorities: theatrical, ethnic, national, etc. by debunking and questioning prevailing heroic myths and forms. Today, imperceptibly yet steadily, Klata himself becomes an authority and his theatrical productions gradually become classics in the eyes of the new generations of theatre directors and audiences, at the same time inciting and inevitably inviting cultural rebellion ... The article examines Klata’s treatment of theatrical and national authority in his Shakespeare productions, on the one hand, and the image of the director as an authority on the other. All in the light of the theoretical model on authority in theatre, especially in Shakespeare productions, developed by W.B. Worthen.

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The Book of Ruth and Song of Songs in the First Hebrew Translation of The Taming of the Shrew

Abstract

This article investigates the earliest Hebrew rendition of a Shakespearean comedy, Judah Elkind’s מוסר סוררה musar sorera ‘The Education of the Rebellious Woman’ (The Taming of the Shrew), which was translated directly from the English source text and published in Berditchev in 1892. Elkind’s translation is the only comedy among a small group of pioneering Shakespeare renditions conducted in late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe by adherents of the Jewish Enlightenment movement. It was rooted in a strongly ideological initiative to establish a modern European-style literature in Hebrew and reflecting Jewish cultural values at a time when the language was still primarily a written medium on the cusp of its large-scale revernacularisation in Palestine. The article examines the ways in which Elkind’s employment of a Judaising translation technique drawing heavily on romantic imagery from prominent biblical intertexts, particularly the Book of Ruth and the Song of Songs, affects the Petruchio and Katherine plotline in the target text. Elkind’s use of carefully selected biblical names for the main characters and his conscious insertion of biblical verses well known in Jewish tradition for their romantic connotations serve to transform Petruchio and Katherine into Peretz and Hoglah, the heroes of a distinctly Jewish love story which offers a unique and intriguing perspective on the translation of Shakespearean comedy.

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Book Reviews
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Canons and Heroes: The Reception of the Complete Works Translation Project in Finland, 2002-13

Abstract

This essay examines the reception of the ten-year Complete Works translation project undertaken by the Finnish publishing company Werner Söderström Oy (WSOY) in 2004-13. Focusing on reviews published in the first and last years of the project, the essay details ongoing processes of Shakespeare (re-)canonization in Finland, as each new generation explains to itself what Shakespeare means to them, and why it continues to read, translate and perform Shakespeare. These processes are visible in comments from the series editors and translators extolling the importance of Shakespeare’s work and the necessity of creating new, modern translations so Finns can read Shakespeare in their mother tongue; in discussions of the literary qualities of a good Shakespeare translation, e.g. whether it is advisable to use iambic pentameter in Finnish, a trochaic language; and in the creation of publisher and translator “heroes,” who at significant cost to themselves, whether in money in terms of the publisher, or time and effort in terms of the translators, labour to provide the public with their Shakespeare in modern Finnish. While on the whole reviewers celebrated the new translations, there was some resistance to changes in familiar lines from older translations, such as Macbeth’s “tomorrow” speech, suggesting that there are nevertheless some limits on modernizing “classic” translations.

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The Fifth Slovene Hamlet: Return to Tradition?

Abstract

Over the nearly two centuries that Hamlet has been a fixture of the Slovene cultural firmament, the complete text has been translated five times, mostly by highly esteemed figures of Slovene literature and literary translation. This article focuses on the most recent translation, which was done by the prominent Slovene drama translator Srečko Fišer for a performance at the National Theatre in Ljubljana in 2013. It examines the new translation’s relations to its source text as well as to the previous translations. After the late twentieth century, when Hamlet was regarded as a text to be challenged, this new translation indicates the return to the tradition of reverence both for the source text and its author, and for the older translations. This is demonstrated on all levels, from the choice of source text edition, which seems to bear more similarities with the older translations than with the most recent predecessors, to the style, which echoes the solutions used by the earlier translators. Fišer continues the Slovenian tradition to a far greater extent than the two translators twenty years ago, by using the same strategies as the early translators, not fixing what was not broken, and only adding his own interpretation to the existing ones, instead of challenging or ignoring them. At the same time, however, traces of subversion of the source text can be detected, not in the form of rebellion, but rather as a mild disregard. This latest translation is the first one to frequently reshuffle the text. It is also the first to subordinate meaning to style. This all indicates that despite the apparent return to tradition, the source text is no longer treated with the reverence of the past.

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“Gallia and Gaul, French and Welsh” (MWW, 3.1.89): Transposing Shakespeare’s ‘Favourite’ Foreign Accents into French

Abstract

The Merry Wives of Windsor has long been compared to a great babel of languages. The play contains a smattering of Spanish, Italian and Dutch and even a whole scene dedicated to the mistranslation of Latin. A large part of the play’s humour also heavily relies on the foreign accents of two characters: the French Doctor Caius and the Welsh parson Sir Hugh Evans. If Christopher Luscombe’s 2008/2010 production of The Merry Wives at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London bears testimony to the success of cross-language and accent-based comedy as a source of laughter on today’s English stage, it seems rather implausible, at first sight, that French translations, adaptations and stagings of these accents and linguistic idiosyncrasies should be greeted with the same degree of hilarity. Indeed, how should the Welsh and French accents, both representing real stumbling blocks for French-speaking translators of the play, be transposed into French? What translation strategies can the latter devise? And to what extent can some of those strategies be said to be politically correct? Focusing on Shakespeare’s ‘favorite’ (predominant) accents and the significance and impact of such linguistic comedy, I shall examine the question of their problematic translation through the analysis and comparison of a number of translations and stagings of The Merry Wives of Windsor into French.

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Questioning the ‘of’ in Performance-as-translation: Multimedia as a Subtext in the 2003 Pécs Performance ‘of’ Hamlet

Abstract

This article explores a theatre performance (National Theatre Pécs, 2003, dir. Iván Hargitai) working with a 1999 Hungarian translation of Hamlet by educator, scholar, translator and poet Ádám Nádasdy as a structural transformation (Fischer-Lichte 1992) of the dramatic text for the stage. The performance is perceived as an intersemiotic translation but not as one emerging from a source-to-target one-way route. The study focuses on certain substructures such as the set design and the multimedial nature of the performance (as defined by Giesekam 2007), and by highlighting intertextual and hypertextual ways of accessing this performance-as-translation it questions the ‘of’ in the ‘performance of Hamlet (or insert other dramatic title)’ phrase. This experimentation with the terminology around performance-as-translation also facilitates the unveiling of a layer of the complex Hungarian Hamlet palimpsest, which, as a multi-layered cultural phenomenon, consists of much more than literary texts: its fabric includes theatre performance and other creative works.

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