Lyric Poetry, Translation, and the Voice of the Feminine (LT)
Jeannine Diddle Uzzi
Modern notions of subjectivity, gender, and voice have their roots in ancient literary genres, but for those with no training in ancient language these roots can be difficult to trace. This class addresses the art of translation, not only the translation of words and ideas from one language to another but the translation of what Walter Benjamin would call the intentio of a text. Students will compare multiple translations of a limited number of Greek and Latin poems in order to approach the intentiones of the poems in their original languages. In addition, this class employs the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan to inform a modern reading of Catullus’ approach to subjectivity, gender, and voice.
Selected poems of Sappho and Catullus
Page Dubois, Sappho Is Burning, “Fragmentary Introduction” (Chap. 1)
Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator” from Illuminations
Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose, Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école Freudienne (excerpts)
The Art and Craft of Translation (C, T)
Kazim Ali and Tony Barnstone
Two poet/translators will discuss some of the practical and theoretical issues in the process of literary translation. We will use our own current projects, a translation of Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri and a translation of Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib to discuss various issues including metaphrase, paraphrase and imitation, translating for form, translating for image, translating for rhetoric, translating for linguistic structure and translating for levels of diction.
Hugo Friedrich, “On the Act of Translation”
Tony Barnstone, “Machines Made Out of Words: Translating Function and the Translator’s Function”
Yves Bonnefoy, “Translating Poetry”
Sohrab Sepehri, “Water’s Footfall,” translated by Kazim Ali, Omnidawn Publishing
Translations, Transformations and Transmutations (C, LT)
In this session, we will be exploring a wide range of translations, transformations and transmutations that to a greater or lesser extent free themselves from constructing themselves as mirrors to an authentic, “authorized” original. In brief, the session will be both a theoretical exploration of questions of literary authority and authorship and a practical set of writing exercises that use literary translation as a “pretext” for original creative writing. The models here go back to Robert Lowell, with his loose versions that he called “imitations,” William Butler Yeats’ famous adaptation of a Ronsard poem, Kenneth Rexroth’s original poems in the mode of Japanese tanka and the voice of a Japanese woman, and Alan Michael Parker’s anthology of poetry “translated” from the work of imaginary poets (poets whose biography, style, and work were invented by the translator).
Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quijote”
Robert Lowell, preface to Imitations
Alan Michael Parker, “Introduction” to The Imaginary Poets
Handout to print out for the session (including):
Pierre de Ronsard, “Quand vous serez bien vieille”
William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old”
Tomaz Salaman and John Bradley poems
Kenneth Rexroth, From The Love Poems of Marichiko
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”
Tony Barnstone, “The Dead God Codex”
Jorge Luis Borges, “Kafka and His Precursors”
Susan Bassnett, “When Is a Translation Not a Translation?” (Chapter 2 of Constructing Cultures: Essays on Literary Translation, by Susan Bassnett and André Lefevere), available online at Google Books.
Patrick Herron, “Ruthven’s Faking Literature, Forging Literature and Faking Forged Literature” at http://jacketmagazine.com/17/herron.html
Absenting Language: Translating the Fiction of Marguerite Duras (C, LT)
We will discuss the process of translating (with Libby Murphy) L'Amour, a 1971 lyric novel by Marguerite Duras that marked her turn from narrative, realist work to a decade in which she worked almost exclusively in film. No knowledge of French is required, though Kazim will read passages from the French original as well as his translation, discussing theoretical and practical issues surrounding the act the of translation. Though no other English translation of the novel exists, students who have reading knowledge of French are encouraged to read the original.
Marguerite Duras, India Song and The Man Sitting in the Corridor
Film Viewing: Marguerite Duras, India Song and Nathalie Granger
Crimes of Passion— Murder on the Translation Express (C)
Poetry is distinguished from prose by the language’s musicality and by its metaphoric life force. A translator of poetry who fails to respect this fact can become the unwitting destroyer of poems.
In this presentation, we will discuss the case for poetry as an experience, and the necessity for it to remain so in any language—for it to preserve, in Robert Lowell’s words, “the fire and the finish of the original.”
We will explore portions of a translation of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself into Persian, a language very different from English both dynamically and linguistically, in order to discuss these important questions: Should a translator preserve the original state of his or her own language? Or is it preferable to allow the target language to be profoundly influenced, expanded and deepened by the foreign tongue? Is a translator ethically bound to make the translation only as good as the original? What about a brilliant translation that could render a text in such a way as to exceed the original? Would that be unethical?
During the second half of the presentation, participants will collectively engage in translating a musically and contextually complex poem from Persian into English, demonstrating how writers can benefit from translating poetry from any language to enhance their own writing in any genre.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, (1881-82 edition) http://whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/1891/whole.html
Edith Grossman, Why Translation Matters
Selected poems: available on Blackboard
Umberto Eco, Experiences in Translation Alastair McEwen (Translator)
The Forbidden—Poems from Iran and Its Exiles, edited by Sholeh Wolpé