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The translation of poetry from the perspective of cultural context - Sarka Grauová


Data: 1995eko urtarrila

The translation of poetry from the perspective of cultural context - Sarka Grauová


This article deals with the translation of poetry from the perspective of the cultural context of a country. The author, from the University of Prague, bases his argument on the principle that there are a series of objective and subjective factors in the personality of a translator which have an influence on his work. Among these objective factors, the cultural context of the translation is of special importance, defined in relation to the literary tradition, practical contemporary language and tendencies in literature.

The author applies this idea to the translation of poetry, and as an example, cites the case of Czechoslovakia, although he believes that this idea could be valid for the language of any other “small” nation. Thus, in the case of Czechoslovakia, the translation of contemporary poetry is more conditioned by the literary history of that country than by the literary history of the original language itself. In order to explain this fact, he alludes to historical events which in 1620 led to German becoming the official language in Czechoslovakia for several centuries. With the resurgence of nationalism, the Czechs were obliged to revive their old written tradition and the translation of poetry played an outstanding part.

According to the author of the article, the translation of poetry is no more than an adornment or complement to the creative literature of countries with a strong and uninterrupted literary tradition. On the other hand, in minority cultures or in countries with a truncated tradition, the translation of poetry can become just one more component of literature itself.