Friday, October 13, 2006


Upon further reflection, I decided that my best option would be to read a translation from Hebrew. After all, the main business of the conference is Scandinavia meeting Asia. So where would Spain fit into this, hah? Not exactly. Right.

So here I am posting again a poem by the late Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, in my translation. There are a few versions of this poem in its English translation, but translators are notorious for never agreeing with each other about translations and meanings and the best way of transfering from one language to another. Always, upon reading a translation from the same language, some translator will wince slightly, poiltely and beg to differ. I am not different. I read the available translations of this important and poignant poem, and I felt like a thirsty person whose thirst, even after drinking an entire bottle of water, is not quenched. I am not pretending that my translation is the best or most valid. For me, it conveys more accurately the mood and direction of the poem:

God pities the kindergarten children,
And school children he pities less.
Grownups he pities not at all.
He drops them by the wayside,
And sometimes they have to crawl on hands and knees
In the scorching sand
To reach the first aid station,
Sweating blood.

He may have some pity to spare
for those who love truly
He favours them
And extends his shade over them
Like the tree that bows over
The homeless man
That sleeps in the public park

Perhaps we too can take out
The few talents of grace
Mother left us.
Perhaps their happiness will shield us
Today and for the rest of time

Yehuda Amichai


Shylock in Translation:

The way the character of Shylock was translated, interpreted and received in different cultures, across time and continents, can be most instructive in observing how translation work by its reception in different cultures.

In choosing Shylock, it was my intention to indicate how easily he went from a rather banal Italian Jewish stereotype to hold a mythical place in the pantheon of Western prejudices and xenophobia. His translatability into the different European cultures among which he thrived made him an authentic character, which every European nation could claim as its own.

In this segment I will look at a sampling of Shylock representations, both classical and modern; how a stereotype encountered in literature and interpreted in translations can serve to illuminate and counter itself.

My presentation will include some short excerpts from movies and archived filmed of performances of the play to illustrate my point.

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