Category Archives: Collections

‘The Unnatural Life at the Writing-Desk’: Women’s Writing across the Long Eighteenth Century

In conjunction with the one-day interdisciplinary conference, ‘Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies’ (held on Saturday, 17th June, at the Taylor Institution and TORCH), the Taylorian hosted an exhibition entitled ‘The Unnatural Life at the Writing-Desk’: Women’s Writing across the Long Eighteenth Century. The exhibition was curated by Dr Kelsey Rubin-Detlev, Joanna Raisbeck and Ben Shears. The exhibition catalogue is available at this link.

The exhibition aims to display the contribution that women writers (broadly conceived) made to a variety of fields in the long eighteenth century, with sections, among others, on science, focussed on Emilie Du Châtelet; drama, with works by Hannah More and Charlotte von Stein; and letters. The aim is to move beyond entrenched or prescriptive ideas of the areas in which women could operate—including for example, translation—and to offer a nuanced perspective on the breadth and depth of women’s writing across Europe. The exhibition draws in the most part on volumes held in the special collections of the Taylor Institution Library, but also on the antiquarian collections of Somerville College, and showcases the work of, among others, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sophie Mereau, Fanny Burney, Françoise de Graffigny, and Catherine the Great.

Below are a few examples of some of the works exhibited, which have been chosen for how they differ from clichés of women’s writing in the eighteenth century, such as women primarily producing (epistolary) novels and translations. These include the German writer Benedikte Naubert was important for the development of the historical novel, Charlotte von Stein, who is better known for her relation to Goethe than her dramas, and an edition of Catherine the Great’s dramas. The volumes in themselves are intriguing historical and cultural artefacts:

Benedikte Naubert 

Benedikte Naubert (1756-1819) was one of the first professional female authors in Germany. Although her work has been overlooked in literary history because of its ‘trivial’ associations – a pejorative term, particularly in German literary historiography –, she influenced writers such as Ann Radcliffe and Friedrich Schiller by establishing the secret tribunal novel (Vehmgerichtsroman). Hermann von Unna (‘Hermann of Unna’, 1788) was the first of two such novels, with the second, Alf von Dülmen, following in 1791. Recently her oeuvre has been recognised for its importance in the development of the historical novel and fairy tale as literary genres, as well as preparing the ground for the genre of Gothic fiction.

Hermann von Unna was one of the first German Gothic novels to be translated into English in 1794 and was adapted for the stage at Covent Garden in 1795, and a French dramatization was published in 1791, Le Tribunal Secret. Naubert draws on the German Vehmgericht (Vehmic courts) of the Middle Ages to explore in an intricate, episodic plot, the fears ignited by the French Revolution of secret tribunals and conspiracy theories. Although the Taylorian does not hold any German editions of Naubert’s Hermann von Unna, it does have French and English translations, including copies of the first three editions of Hermann von Unna in English, which all stem from the same anonymously published translation. The English translation erroneously ascribes the novel to a so-called Professor Kramer, an ill-chosen pseudonym since it was linked to Karl Gottlob Cramer, a writer known for adventure novels.

Charlotte von Stein

Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe (‘New System of Freedom or the Conspiracy Against Love’, 1798), in Charlotte von Stein, Dramen, ed. Susanne Kord (Hildesheim: Olms, 1998) (facsimile) EP.667.A.10

Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe (‘New System of Freedom or the Conspiracy Against Love’, 1798), in Charlotte von Stein, Dramen, ed. Susanne Kord (Hildesheim: Olms, 1998) (facsimile) EP.667.A.10

Charlotte von Stein (1742-1827), a lady-in-waiting at the court of Weimar, has featured in literary history primarily in association with Goethe. She is variously considered his close friend, muse, and – in the more sensationalist readings – his lover. But she also wrote several dramas, only one of which, Die Zwey Emilien (The Two Emilies), was published during her lifetime. Of these dramas, the tragedy Dido has garnered critical attention because of its gently comic portrayal of Goethe.

The comedy Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe (‘New System of Freedom or the Conspiracy Against Love’, 1798), which explores the social construction of gender, is an interesting example of editorial practices. It was first published by von Stein’s grandson Felix von Stein in 1867, but in an edited form that reduced the original five acts to four. The drama was re-published with further editorial amendments by Franz Ulbrich, who based his edition on the 1867 publication, rather than on the original text.

Charlotte von Stein’s dramas were re-published as part of the series Frühe Frauenliteratur in Deutschland (Early Women’s Writing in Germany) by the publishing house Olms. These editions feature facsimiles of the original or pre-existing versions of the texts. In this case, the version of Neues Freiheitssystem oder die Verschwörung gegen die Liebe follows the twentieth-century publication edited by Franz Ulbrich.

Catherine the Great 

Catherine the Great and others, Théâtre de l’Hermitage de Catherine II, impératrice de Russie, 2 vols (Paris: F. Buisson, Year 7 [1798]) VET.FR.II.B.1412 (v. 1)

Catherine the Great and others, Théâtre de l’Hermitage de Catherine II, impératrice de Russie, 2 vols (Paris: F. Buisson, Year 7 [1798]) VET.FR.II.B.1412 (v. 1)

Elite women wrote and performed in private theatricals all across eighteenth-century Europe, from Elizabeth, Countess Harcourt, in Oxfordshire to Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Catherine the Great in Russia did not perform herself, but she wrote extensively for the public and the private stage. In 1787-1788, she led her courtiers and some foreign diplomats in composing a series of theatrical works (largely proverb plays), which were then performed by a troupe of French actors in the recently-built Hermitage theatre in her palace in St Petersburg. She oversaw the first edition of the plays in 1788, distributing the very small print run only to those who had contributed to the collection. One of the participants, the then French ambassador Louis Philippe de Ségur, then republished the work after her death. This volume is the curious result of publishing a relic of ancien régime culture in Revolutionary France: a particularly inaccurate engraving of the Empress faces a title page using the Revolutionary calendar but prominently crediting an absolute monarch and outspoken opponent of the Revolution as the lead author.

Beyond showcasing the variety of women’s writing in print form in the eighteenth century, one unique and valuable item that was on display was a letter by Joséphine de Beauharnais to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Letter from Joséphine de Beauharnais to Napoleon Bonaparte, 5 Ventôse [24 February 1796] Courtesy of Bryan Ward-Perkins and the President and Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford

Letter from Joséphine de Beauharnais to Napoleon Bonaparte, 5 Ventôse [24 February 1796]. Courtesy of Bryan Ward-Perkins and the President and Fellows of Trinity College, Oxford.

There are few extant letters by Josephine known to exist, and this one in particular had been known to exist from an undated facsimile from the early nineteenth century. This original manuscript of the letter was discovered in the archives of Trinity College by the Fellow Archivist Bryan Ward-Perkins. Since the letter is rare, the manuscript was only exhibited for one day of the exhibition, replaced by a scanned paper copy for the remainder of the time. It was nonetheless quite the coup to be allowed to include the letter in the exhibition.

The exhibition ran in parallel with two conferences, originally ‘Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies’ and then extended to cover the Women in German Studies Open Conference on Reform and Revolt. The exhibition was not just of interest to university students and academics, however, since it was also shown to the school pupils on the UNIQ summer schools in German and French – in the hope of conveying to the next generation how exciting it can be to work with books and manuscripts as historical objects.

Joanna Raisbeck
Somerville College, University of Oxford

350th anniversary of the Raid of the Medway

My primary school in the Netherlands was excellent, especially with regard to history lessons. So I was taught, like most Dutch school children were and are, about the heroic deeds of Admiral Michiel Adriaensz. De Ruyter. Michiel de Ruyter led the Dutch fleet up the Thames, I learned, breaking the chain that the English had placed across the river, thereby defeating the English and winning the second Anglo-Dutch sea-war in 1667.

This feat is commemorated this year, so I decided to investigate the events in a little more detail by reading some contemporary accounts. To my surprise the chain was not placed across the Thames but across the Medway; and, of course, the Dutch did not sail up it to London, but to Rochester (see modern map below). Last but not least: from our sources it appears that the chain was not broken, but ‘sailed over’, perhaps because it was far enough below water level. Other sources, not discussed here, may contradict this sequence of events, but the English were defeated in the second Anglo-Dutch war; that is a historical fact.

My primary school teacher clearly had not read these contemporary accounts of the achievements of the Dutch fleet. If he (not she!) had done so, he would have been able to tell us that Dutch narrators of the period were not very familiar with English river names, and mainly referred to the Thames as ‘river by London’ and the Medway as ‘river by Rochester’ thus confusing Dutch school children 300 years later.

Our teacher would have told us that since De Ruyter was the Admiral of the Dutch fleet, he did not cut through the chain himself, but that it was the brave captain Brakel who ‘sailed over’ the chain and managed to negotiate his way between the ships, deliberately sunk by the English to close off the Medway, and sail all the way to Rochester. Brakel and the Dutch fleet then captured and set fire to various royal ships, including the Royal Charles, and captured Upnor Castle, all of this depicted in this etching from Het leven en bedryf van den Heere Michiel de Ruiter….beschreeven door Gerard Brandt (1687).

Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18 (p.574-575)

Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18 (p.574-575)

Title page of Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18

Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18

A couple of other sources (below) have helped me to get a slightly more realistic picture of what happened in June 1667.[1]  These are accounts of the lives of Cornelis (and Johan) de Witt. The States of Holland (the Government) sent Cornelis de Witt with Michiel de Ruyter to England to report back on any achievements of the fleet in the war against England. Some of De Witt’s letters to the States of Holland are published in both volumes and can be regarded as ‘eye witness reports’. All three of my sources report on the River Medway’s chain; here is one example from Leeven en Dood der doorlugtige heeren gebroeders Cornelis de Witt en Johan de Witt (Life and death of the eminent brothers Cornelis de Witt and Johan de Witt). The (in)famous chain, intended to stop the Dutch, is mentioned on p.133:

’s Woensdags zynde den 22 juny […] zylde de Capitein Brakel […] vooraf, ende over de ketting, die de Engelsche op de Rivier met paalen ter weder zyden vast gemaakt, en gespannen hadden’

(On Wednesday 22nd June […] Captain Brakel sailed […] in front over the chain which the English had put across the river, attached to poles either side)

My school teacher was right to portray De Ruyter as a hero since he was regarded as such at the time:  Both De Ruyter and De Witt were bestowed with specially engraved golden cups in recognition of their achievements in the Anglo-Dutch war, as reported in Historisch Verhael en politique bedenckingen aengaende de bestieringe van Staet- en Oorloghs-Saken: voor-gevallen onder de bedieningen van de Heeren Cornelis en Johan de Witt (1677). The States had given orders for the fleet to set sail for the ‘River of London’ (p.365). On p.394-395 the ‘Goude Koppen’ (golden cups) are mentioned.

This part of the second Anglo-Dutch war, well-known in the Netherlands, is being commemorated this summer with a programme of events in Chatham and London. This includes the exhibition ‘Breaking the Chain’ at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, which vividly brings to life the story of the Battle of Medway with collections from The Royal Museum Greenwich, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Dutch National Maritime Museum, the Michiel de Ruyter Foundation and the British Library.

Dr Johanneke Sytsema, Subject Consultant for Linguistics, Dutch and Frisian

[1] I have limited my investigations to materials available in the Taylor Institution Library.

References

Het leven en bedryf van den Heere Michiel de Ruiter….beschreeven door Gerard Brandt. 16261685.
Amsterdam : Wolfgang, Waasberge, Boom, Van Someren en Goethals, 1685.
Taylor Institution Library 122.E.18

Historisch Verhael en politique bedenckingen aengaende de bestieringe van Staet-en Oorloghs-Saken, : voor-gevallen onder de bedieningen van de Heeren Cornelis en Johan de Witt. Beginnende A⁰. 1653. en eyndigende in het Jaer 1672. met hunne Doot. t’Amsterdam, : By J. H. B., 1677.
Taylor Institution Library 167.A.13

Leeven en Dood der doorlugtige heeren gebroeders Cornelis de Witt en Johan de Witt. (Life and death of the eminent brothers Cornelis de Witt and Johan de Witt. Amsterdam : J. ten Hoorn, 1705.
Taylor Institution Library 167.D.5

More documents on the British Library blog http://blogs.bl.uk/european/2017/04/the-dutch-are-coming.html

For Commemorative events please visit the site of the Historic Dockyard in Chatham http://thedockyard.co.uk/whats-on/battle-of-medway-commemoration/ and http://new.medway.gov.uk/news-and-events/bom

Identities in Transit: Portuguese Women Artists since 1950

The Taylor Institution Library has mounted an exhibition (10-24 March 2017, subsequently extended to 31 March) to accompany the conference Transnational Portuguese Women Artists (Wadham College, 16-18 March 2017). The exhibition is curated by Dr Maria Luísa Coelho, Joanne Ferrari and Jessica Woodward. The exhibition catalogue is available here.

The purpose of the exhibition is to highlight the significant contribution of Portuguese women artists to Portuguese culture and beyond, from the perspective of their experiences, works, contacts and, ultimately, their impact within the transnational context. It focuses on a group of women who, from the 1950s, have created a wide-ranging body of work whilst living for extended periods outside Portugal. During their time abroad, these women established relationships and collaborations not only with other expatriate Portuguese artists but also with a wider European artistic community. The Taylorian’s exhibition displays publications primarily held by the Taylor Institution Library, showing the artistic production of Lourdes Castro, Menez, Paula Rego, Maria Velho da Costa and Ana Hatherly. The material on view highlights the tension between the terms roots and routes while also suggesting the connections between different moments and places, and the creation of identities in transit.

Snapshot of one exhibition case showing works by Paula Rego and Maria Velho da Costa.

Snapshot of one exhibition case showing works by Paula Rego and Maria Velho da Costa.

Lourdes Castro

Born in Madeira, in 1930, Lourdes Castro moved to Lisbon in 1950 and, following her expulsion (for “non-conformity”) from the Escola Superior de Belas Artes, she relocated to Munich in 1957 and then Paris in 1958. There, Castro was in close contact with the celebrated couple Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and Árpád Szenes. It was in Paris, where she lived for twenty-five years, that she co-founded the experimental group KWY with her husband René Bertholo and a number of other artists. (The letters K, W and Y were considered ‘foreign’ to Portuguese by the spelling reforms of 1943.)  During this period, the artist often visited London and met other Portuguese expatriates.

Lourdes Castro, exhibition catalogue, Galeria 111, Lisbon, c. 1970, with a poem by Helder Macedo; Lourdes Castro and Manuel Zimbro, “As Cinco Estações” (from “Teatro de Sombras”), performance held at Teatro Municipal do Funchal, Funchal, 14-15.07.1977

Lourdes Castro, exhibition catalogue, Galeria 111, Lisbon, c. 1970, with a poem by Helder Macedo; Lourdes Castro and Manuel Zimbro, “As Cinco Estações” (from “Teatro de Sombras”), performance held at Teatro Municipal do Funchal, Funchal, 14-15.07.1977

Lourdes Castro has developed a considerable body of work focusing on the shadow, through which she reassesses the relationship between the aesthetic object and its surrounding world. In 1962 she began working on her ‘projected shadow’ works. Beginning with collaged objects these developed into paintings of Castro’s and her friends’ projected shadows. From 1966 onwards – and in collaboration with Manuel Zimbro – Castro also formed the Teatro Ambulante de Sombras (Travelling Theatre of Shadows). Despite her development of this performative art form outside of Portugal Castro’s interest in radical experimentation is clearly rooted in the Portuguese avant-garde. Another avenue of exploration of the shadow was the ‘inventory’, for example O Grande Herbário de Sombras (1972), (“The Great Herbarium of Shadows”, a collection of shadows of botanical specimens). This herbarium reveals Castro’s profound interest in nature, a major influencing factor in her decision to return to Madeira in 1983.

Menez

Menez (1926-1995) had an exceptionally cosmopolitan existence. Although she did not undertake any formal artistic training, her travels and privileged background (which she shared, to a certain extent, with the other artists featured in this exhibition) allowed her to pursue an artistic career and overcome many of the constraints imposed on Portuguese women by the dictatorial regime of Oliveira Salazar.

The artist’s first exhibition was held at Galeria de Março, Lisbon, in 1954, and showed a collection of Menez’s gouaches selected by the poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Menez remained a close friend of Sophia and other major Portuguese writers and artists such as Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Júlio Pomar, Mário Cesariny and António Ramos Rosa.

Despite the influence of the Paris School in her early work and her debt to Vieira da Silva, Menez chose to use a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation (1964-65 and 1969) to move to London. There, she was in contact with other cultural and aesthetic trends, and also became a central and often admired figure in the Portuguese expatriate milieu: she formed long-lasting friendships with the writers Alberto de Lacerda and Helder Macedo and the artists Victor Willing and Paula Rego. As a whole, her body of work is defined by a continuous process of change.

Exhibition catalogue, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, November-December 1990

Menez, exhibition catalogue, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, November-December 1990. Image shows: (25) Os Antepassados (1966), (26) Henrique VIII (1966), (28) Sem Título (Retrato de Mário Chicó) (1961), (27) Sem Título (Retrato de Arpad) (25.12.1961), (30) Sem Título (Auto-retrato) (25.12.1961), (29) Sem Título (Retrato de M. H. Vieira da Silva) (1961)

Paula Rego

Dame Paula Rego (1935-) was born in Lisbon. In 1951 she moved to London to study at the Slade School of Fine Art and became immersed in a lively artistic community attuned to creative activities around the world. She formed strong and close relationships with other Portuguese artists and writers living in London while never losing touch with developments back in Portugal. Rego returned to Portugal in 1957, where she lived intermittently with her husband, the British painter Victor Willing (1928-1988), and their three children. Partly prompted by the Portuguese revolution in 1974, the family returned permanently to London in 1976.

Rego’s transcultural position is reflected in her work, clearly evidenced through the influence of her Portuguese heritage as well as the impact of her life in London. Through this patchwork of references, Rego addresses the recurrent themes of asymmetric power relations and gendered experiences, as she revisits the national, religious and sexual politics of the country she left behind. She is not only one of the most respected artists working in Britain today, but also a household name in Portugal. In 2009, a museum dedicated to her work –­ Casa das Histórias ­– opened in Cascais. She continues to exhibit regularly both in Portugal and in Britain.

Photograph of Paula Rego painting Crivelli’s Garden at the National Gallery, while Artist in Residence, 1990 (source: Nicholas Willing)

Photograph of Paula Rego painting Crivelli’s Garden at the National Gallery, while Artist in Residence, 1990 (source: Nicholas Willing)

Maria Velho da Costa

Maria Velho da Costa (1938- ) is one of Portugal’s most experimental contemporary writers, perhaps best known to an international readership as one of the authors of New Portuguese Letters (Novas cartas portuguesas, Lisbon: Estúdios Cor, 1972). Her work is imbued with a spirit of de-centering and de-territorialisation through the creation of diverse characters, worlds, realities and dimensions that nevertheless coexist or intersect. Through continually pushing the boundaries of literary genres, she explores the possibilities of language in dialogue with other artistic media such as music and the visual arts. This de-centering process is also a reflection of the locations she has chosen to spend time in: she was briefly in Guinea-Bissau in 1973; in 1980 she moved to London, where she worked for about six years as Portuguese leitora at King’s College; after that she was appointed cultural attaché in Cape Verde (1988-89).

During her time in England Velho da Costa wrote and published the novel Lúcialima (1983) whose cover was illustrated by Paula Rego; and the compilation O Mapa Cor de Rosa: Cartas de Londres (1984), about life in London in the early 1980s. More recent works, such as Madame (2000) and Myra (2008) continue to display physical or psychological accounts marked by an interest in otherness and the intersecting of different worlds, realities and languages; they also show her collaborations with visual artists.

Maria Velho da Costa, Lúcialima (Lisbon: O Jornal, April 1983), cover by Paula Rego

Lúcialima, Maria Velho da Costa (Lisbon: O Jornal, April 1983), cover by Paula Rego

Ana Hatherly

Ana Hatherly (1929-2015) was born in Porto, moving to Lisbon at an early age. After undertaking formal musical training in Portugal, France and Germany, she took a degree in Modern Languages at the University of Lisbon. She then enrolled at the London International Film School (1971-74) and subsequently moved to the United States where she completed a doctorate in Golden Age Hispanic Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ana Hatherly, Dessins, Collages et Papiers Peints (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: Lisbon, 2005), exhibition catalogue, Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, 6-15.12.2005

Ana Hatherly, Dessins, Collages et Papiers Peints (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: Lisbon, 2005), exhibition catalogue, Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, 6-15.12.2005

A clear focus of Hatherly’s oeuvre is the relationship between word and image, already evident in her early works, produced while living in London. Her output from this period also exhibits the influence of Pop Art, a strong connection with the concrete-experimental movement, and her adoption of the collage technique. The artist’s visual exploration of text evolved into her visual poems, informed by her academic research on baroque poetry. In 1959 she began experimenting with concrete poetry. She soon became one of the leading figures in the Portuguese Experimental Poetry group, regularly contributing to avant-garde journals, edited collections and group exhibitions in Portugal and abroad.

 

 

 

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Dr Maria Luísa Coelho
FCT Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oxford/ Universidade do Minho

You can also see two videos of Maria Luísa and Luis Amorim de Sousa introducing and discussing the exhibition (links below, courtesy of Prof. Henrike Laehnemann).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39j-y_lXNL0&feature=youtu.be

https://twitter.com/OxfordModLangs/status/842791976588230657

‘Von der Muttersprache zur Sprachmutter’: Yoko Tawada’s Creative Multilingualism

The Taylorian is delighted to be hosting an exhibition celebrating the work of Yoko Tawada, DAAD Writer in Residence at St Edmund Hall for two weeks from 19th February 2017. The exhibition has been curated by Masters student Sheela Mahadevan (MSt Modern Languages), with the help of DAAD-Lektor Christoph Held and Professor Henrike Lähnemann, and will run for the duration of Tawada’s visit. It is open to holders of a Bodleian Reader Card.  This blog post is an abbreviated version of the exhibition catalogue prepared by Sheela Mahadevan.

Sheela Mahadevan and Christoph Held setting up the exhibition

Sheela Mahadevan and Christoph Held setting up the exhibition

Yoko Tawada was born in 1960 in Tokyo, Japan.  From 1982, she did an MA in German literature at Hamburg University, followed by a PhD at Zurich University. Germany is now her home: after living in Hamburg for 22 years, Tawada moved to Berlin in 2006, where she still lives. She writes in both German and Japanese, with the nature of her bilingualism a prominent feature in her work.

Tawada works intensively with German dictionaries when she writes. These are two of those she uses most:

Tawada has won numerous prizes for her work, such as the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize (1996), the Förderpreis für Literatur der Stadt Hamburg (1990), the Lessingförderpreis (1994), as well as numerous Japanese prizes. She was winner of the prestigious Kleist Prize in 2016 (see this extract of the Laudatio by Günter Blamberger given on this occasion).

Tawada writes in a variety of genres and media: novels, poetry, essay collections, plays, and even audio texts. Some of her works are written in Japanese, and then translated into German. Other works are written in German. She rarely translates one language into the other herself, but sometimes writes the same text in both Japanese and German.

Some examples of Tawada’s work.

Of course Tawada is not alone in making use of multilingualism in her writing. Other multilingual writers writing in German whose works contain the presence of one or more additional languages, include Paul Celan, Franco Biondi, Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti, Galsan Tschinag, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Tzveta Sofronieva.

Other multilingual works by authors writing in German:

When making deliberate use of several different languages, the way the languages are presented to the reader is a very important consideration. Layout, choice of typeface and clarity of presentation can all influence how the reader perceives the language and culture in relation to others. The Taylorian has examples of bilingual books over several centuries.

Schottel, Justus Georg. Ausführliche Arbeit Von der Teutschen HaubtSprache/ Worin enthalten Gemelter dieser HaubtSprache Uhrankunft/ Uhraltertuhm/ Reinlichkeit/ Eigenschaft/ Vermoͤgen/ Unvergleichlichkeit/ Grundrichtigkeit/ zumahl die SprachKunst und VersKunst Teutsch und guten theils Lateinisch völlig mit eingebracht/ wie nicht weniger die Verdoppelung/ Ableitung/ die Einleitung/ Nahmwörter/ Authores vom Teutschen Wesen und Teutscher Sprache/ von der verteutschung/ Item die Stammwoͤrter der Teutschen Sprache samt der Erklaͤrung und derogleichen viel merkwuͤrdige Sachen. Abgetheilet In Fünf Bücher. Braunschweig/ Gedrukt und verlegt durch Christoff Friederich Zilligern, 1663.

Schottel, Justus Georg. Ausführliche Arbeit Von der Teutschen HaubtSprache/ Worin enthalten Gemelter dieser HaubtSprache Uhrankunft/ Uhraltertuhm/ Reinlichkeit/ Eigenschaft/ Vermoͤgen/ Unvergleichlichkeit/ Grundrichtigkeit/ zumahl die SprachKunst und VersKunst Teutsch und guten theils Lateinisch völlig mit eingebracht/ wie nicht weniger die Verdoppelung/ Ableitung/ die Einleitung/ Nahmwörter/ Authores vom Teutschen Wesen und Teutscher Sprache/ von der verteutschung/ Item die Stammwoͤrter der Teutschen Sprache samt der Erklaͤrung und derogleichen viel merkwuͤrdige Sachen. Abgetheilet In Fünf Bücher. Braunschweig/ Gedrukt und verlegt durch Christoff Friederich Zilligern, 1663.

Opitz, Martin, and Esaias Fellgiebel. Des berühmten Schlesiers Martini Opitii von Boberfeld/Bolesl. Opera. Geist- und Weltlicher Gedichte/ nebst beygefuͤgten vielen andern Tractaten so wohl Deutsch als Lateinisch/ Mit Fleiss zusammen gebracht/ und von vielen Druckfehlern befreyet. Die neueste Edition. Breßlau: Verlegts Jesaias Fellgibel, ..., 1690.

Opitz, Martin, and Esaias Fellgiebel. Des berühmten Schlesiers Martini Opitii von Boberfeld/Bolesl. Opera. Geist- und Weltlicher Gedichte/ nebst beygefuͤgten vielen andern Tractaten so wohl Deutsch als Lateinisch/ Mit Fleiss zusammen gebracht/ und von vielen Druckfehlern befreyet. Die neueste Edition. Breßlau: Verlegts Jesaias Fellgibel, …, 1690.

Luther, Martin. Ein Wellische Lügenschrifft/ von Doctoris Martini Luthers Todt/ zů Rom außgangen. Papa quid ægroto sua fata ... perfide Papa velis. Nürnberg: [Hans Guldenmund], 1545.

Luther, Martin. Ein Wellische Lügenschrifft/ von Doctoris Martini Luthers Todt/ zů Rom außgangen. Papa quid ægroto sua fata … perfide Papa velis. Nürnberg: [Hans Guldenmund], 1545.

Clifton, E., Friedrich W. Ebeling, and Giovanni. Vitali. Manuel de la conversation et du style épistolaire : Français-anglais-allemand-italien. Nouv. éd., soigneusement revue et corrigée. ed. Paris: Garnier Frères, 1866.

Clifton, E., Friedrich W. Ebeling, and Giovanni. Vitali. Manuel de la conversation et du style épistolaire : Français-anglais-allemand-italien. Nouv. éd., soigneusement revue et corrigée. ed. Paris: Garnier Frères, 1866.

Taylor, Thomas. The Gentleman's Pocket Companion, for Travelling into Foreign Parts: : Being a Most Easy, Plain and Particular Description of the Roads from London to All the Capital Cities in Europe. With an Account of the Distances of Leagues or Miles from Place to Place, All Reduced to the English Standard. Illustrated with Maps Curiously Engraven on Copper Plates. With Three Dialogues in Six European Languages. The First Being to Ask the Way, with Other Familiar Communications. The Second Is Common Talke in an Inn. The Third Other Necessary Conversation. London: Printed and Sold by Tho: Taylor ..., 1722.

Taylor, Thomas. The Gentleman’s Pocket Companion, for Travelling into Foreign Parts: : Being a Most Easy, Plain and Particular Description of the Roads from London to All the Capital Cities in Europe. With an Account of the Distances of Leagues or Miles from Place to Place, All Reduced to the English Standard. Illustrated with Maps Curiously Engraven on Copper Plates. With Three Dialogues in Six European Languages. The First Being to Ask the Way, with Other Familiar Communications. The Second Is Common Talke in an Inn. The Third Other Necessary Conversation. London: Printed and Sold by Tho: Taylor …, 1722.

The materiality of the book is a vital aspect of Tawada’s works. She experiments with different forms of paper and other materials in her books. Although paper made from plant-based products has been available since the end of the Middle Ages, Tawada chose to have the book cover of Ein Gedicht für ein Buch made from fish skin, since fish and water are important in her works.

“When a book is translated into other languages, you can’t control the translation.”

(Yoko Tawada, Jaipur Literary Festival 2016)

Translating Tawada is undoubtedly a challenge; it often requires a knowledge of both Japanese and German. It poses many ‘problems’: how do we translate neologisms into any language? How do we translate so as to recreate the reading experience of a specific book? For example, in a book that is in German and Japanese, where both languages are to be read in different directions, how is this effect rendered in an English translation? How do we translate into English a German and a Japanese version of the same text?

In this text, Chantal Wright outlines the problems and demonstrates potential solutions when translating Tawada’s work.

Tawada, Yōko, and Chantal Wright. Portrait of a Tongue. Ottawa, 2013.

Tawada, Yōko, and Chantal Wright. Portrait of a Tongue. Ottawa, 2013.

Tawada’s works make us reconsider our own relationship with language, creating the feeling that no-one can be comfortable in any language, even our mother tongue. Is it possible to free oneself from language?

We end this post with a variety of comments by Yoko Tawada regarding language and translation, taken from Koiran, Linda, Schreiben in Fremder Sprache- Yoko Tawada und Galsan Tschinag (Munich: Iudicum Verlag, 2009) pp. 257-358:

———————–

<<Wenn man eine weitere Sprache kennt, dann ist die Distanz zwischen sich selbst und der Muttersprache spürbar. Man ist nicht so ganz unter der Macht der Sprache. Das ist eine Befreiung, und dann kann man erst mutig werden.>>

 (If you know another language, then the distance between yourself and the mother tongue can be sensed. You aren’t quite so much under the spell of the language. You are released, and only then can you become bold.)

———————–

<<Wenn ich im Denken von der einen Sprache zur anderen springe, spüre ich einen Augenblick stark, dass es ganz dunkle Bereiche gibt, ohne Sprache….Wenn man in diese Kluft einmal hineingefallen ist, dann ist die Muttersprache auch ganz fremd, ich finde Japanish dann sehr komisch und Deutsch sowieso. Dieses Gefühl ist für mich sehr wichtig: sich von der Sprache zu befreien.>>

 (If I jump from one language to another while thinking, I sense for a moment that there are quite dark areas without language…if you have fallen into this abyss once, then the mother tongue is quite foreign, I then find Japanese very strange, and German too. This feeling for me is very important: to free oneself from language.)

———————–

<< Die literarische Sprache ist sowieso nie die Muttersprache. So wie ich auf Japanisch schreibe, gleicht nicht dem Japanisch, das ich spreche oder der japanischen Sprache, die ich als Kind gelernt habe. In dem Moment, wo man einmal eine Trennung von der Alltagssprache gemacht hat, kommt die literarische Sprache- und die ist sowieso eine Fremdsprache.>> 

(Literary language is in any case never the mother tongue. The way I write in Japanese never equates to the Japanese which I speak, or the Japanese language which I learnt as a child. When one has separated from the language of daily use, this is the moment at which literary language arises, and this is in any case a foreign language.)

 ———————–

For a video introduction to the exhibition, please see the links below:

Introduction: On Yoko Tawada https://youtu.be/gVxWauXK4fE

Exhibition Case 2: Bilingual Layout in Yoko Tawada https://youtu.be/rU5Zv36k2iY

Exhibition Case 3: Exophonic Writing in German https://youtu.be/I6dd2wPT0HY

Exhibition Case 4: Bilingual Layout https://youtu.be/M0z8HMzXqSU

Exhibition Case 5: Bilingual Layout 2 https://youtu.be/CgujyiGUVgc

 ———————–

Exhibition catalogue by Sheela Mahadevan, MSt student, Oriel College

Text abbreviated for online publication by Emma Huber, German Subject Librarian

 

The Pring-Mill Collection: Nicaragua — Part I

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In recent months, Victor Jara has been in the news again owing to a trial being brought against a former Chilean lieutenant involved in his murder. The names of songwriters such as Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa and Quilapayún continue to resonate in Latin America and around the world. Less well known (beyond Latin America) is the poetry, with the same kind of political commitment to revolution and the people’s struggle, that emerged in Nicaragua. These writings influenced subsequent generations, including pre-eminent Latin American musicians, and they play a prominent part in Latin American cultural history.

Part of the collection that the late renowned academic Robert Pring-Mill (1924-2005) bequeathed to the Taylor Institution Library depicts and encapsulates not only a crucial period of Latin American history — the revolutionary struggle of Nicaragua — but also the struggle in Latin America for meaning and representation through literature. As scholars such as Pring-Mill, and John Beverley and Marc Zimmerman (1990) have argued, while the novel became literary nationalism in Latin America, in Central America it was poetry that took on this role. In no other country in Central America did poetry have the significance and effect on national culture and identity as in Nicaragua. Testimonial writing is also a form of literature found in the publications of this collection, and has been a central tool for writers of revolutions in Central America.

The Pring-Mill collection is fascinating as a legacy of an era where committed poetry and testimonials take centre stage. The term “committed poetry”, a term penned by Pring-Mill himself, applies to a poetry that moves beyond the aesthetic to the testimonial of not only describing reality, but acting upon it and influencing the world, using poetry as a tool for social change through critique, protest, denunciation and reporting.

The Pring-Mill collection, which I was very generously given access to study, illustrates how art and revolution are closely interwoven in Latin America; and, in the case of Nicaragua, the close interweaving of art, Catholicism and revolution.

This article has been divided into three blog posts, published separately and over the course of the coming weeks. The first post introduces the collection and then focuses on Nicaraguan poetry. The second will explore serial publications and grey literature. The third will discuss testimonial literature.

Introducing the Collection

Steve Simpson. Postcard from Nicaragua

Steve Simpson. Postcard from Nicaragua

Some good introductory publications to both the collection and to Nicaragua of that time, for those who do not read Spanish, are: Not Just Another Nicaragua Travel Guide, by Alan Hulme, Steve Krekel and Shannon O’Reilly (1990); and Postcard from Nicaragua, by Steve Simpson (1987). They approach Nicaragua from a visitor’s perspective. The travel guide gives a fantastic portrait of Nicaragua, using humour, photographs in black and white and the authors’ personal opinions. Simpson’s book is the diary of his journey through Nicaragua in 1987, with a few illustrations.

A few documents were published in Germany, Russia, the UK, France and the US and show the support coming from different sectors of these countries. Many of these are from Nicaragua Solidarity Campaigns in their respective countries, while others, such as the New Left Review and the Latin American Bureau, are of a more academic nature.

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Yet the most interesting of these, for me personally, is the counter-report on Central America by two UK Members of Parliament, Stuart Holland and Donald Anderson, with a preface by Neil Kinnock, entitled Kissinger’s Kingdom? (1984).

This report was the product of a fact-finding mission instigated by Neil Kinnock, the then leader of the Labour Party, as a response to the Kissinger Commission on Population and Development in Central America (its report was issued in 1984). The result is a wider and more balanced investigation into the struggles of the region and by extension is a criticism of American foreign policy at that time. It also includes criticism of the structural inadequacies in UK diplomatic representation and provides some analogies with other conflicts such as those in The Balkans and Vietnam. It is a short but fascinating insight not only into Central America but also into the mentality of the UK’s Labour Party at that time.

On the whole, the Pring-Mill collection on Nicaragua falls into three categories — which invariably overlap. The first and largest of the three, is the collection of Nicaraguan poetry; the second is the collection of grey material, ephemera and serial publications, mostly issued by the new revolutionary government of 1979 and onwards; and, finally, the testimonial writings.

Nicaraguan Poetry

Poetry has been identified as the starting point for the Sandinista revolution, as the vehicle for inspiration and political expression of Nicaraguans. For a good introduction to the historical development of Nicaraguan poetry there is Jorge E. Arellano’s Antología general de la poesía nicaragüense (1984). It provides a survey of all the currents, trends and styles of the poetry in Nicaragua throughout the years. It starts with pre-Columbian poetry, followed by colonial poetry, then the neoclassical and romantic poets, poets contemporary with Rubén Darío, modernists, vanguard poets and post-modernists. It also includes poets on the periphery and the ‘50s generation. But to understand the importance of poetry in Nicaragua one must go back to Rubén Darío, one of the most famous poets in Latin America. He was the first to pen the term modernismo in Latin America and later the Sandinista movement established Darío as a cult figure. There are some articles dedicated to Darío in the Pring-Mill collection, but there is more emphasis on the poets who came later in the vanguard movement, poets who in fact rejected Darío and modernismo. The Vanguardia movement in Nicaragua was, according to Forster and Jackson, by far the most vital in Central America. It was the “initial impetus”, in the mid 1920s, of José Coronel Urtecho, who published a sardonic poem “Oda a Rubén Darío” which inspired a number of famous poets whose works are in the Pring-Mill collection.  Urtecho is an important figure in Nicaragua both before and after the revolution and his support and enthusiasm for the new Nicaragua is depicted in his poem Conversación con Carlos, with engravings by Graciale Azcarate and Tony Capellán (1986), about his time with the founder of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), Carlos Fonseca.

Urtecho was mentor to Ernesto Cardenal and other 1940s poets and intellectuals who were “incubated” in the celebrated poetry workshop, Taller San Lucas. Established in 1941, the Taller was the result of a group of friends brought together by their Catholicism and love of culture and is a product of the revolutionary fervor that was growing at that time, together with the vanguardista movement of which Pablo Antonio Cuadra was very much a part. The poetry workshop was organised by another significant vanguardista, Pablo Antonio Cuadra. It was Cuadra, together with Francisco Pérez Estrada, who collected the texts for Muestrario del Folklore Nicaragüense (1978), produced by the Fondo de Promoción Cultural as part of the series Ciencias Humanas.

Photo10The Fondo was set up by the Banco de América to promote Nicaraguan culture through a collection of historical, literary, anthropological and archaeological publications. Muestrario del Folklore Nicaragüense is a collection of popular and folkloric Nicaraguan stories, theatre pieces, songs, poems, legends, sayings, rhymes, myths and more.

Photo09As the introduction mentions, it is the fruit of research conducted by the editors during their work at Taller San Lucas during the 1940s. It is one of the most interesting publications in the Pring-Mill collection, due to the richness of its content, and it was clearly a long labour of love to put the book together.

Photo08

The publication is also an extraordinary record of Nicaraguan culture. Muestrario’s editors have maintained original spellings and the vernacular used by the locals who penned the works included. Loga del Niño Dios, for example, contains words in the Mangue language of the Chorotegas, natives of the region.

The voice of Ernesto Cardenal (Minister of Culture 1979-87)  can be found in a few items in the Taylorian collections, as well as in the interviews he gave for Margaret Randall’s Cristianos en la Revolución (1983) and Teófilo Cabestrero’s Ministers of God, Ministers of the People: Testimonies of Faith from Nicaragua (1983). His poem to Marilyn Monroe, as well as others, appeared in Tlaloc (Spring 1972. 3,4), a magazine produced by the students of the Department of Hispanic Studies at the State University of New York Stony Brook. A free publication distributed in Latin America and the US, it also includes poems and articles from Juan Rotta and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Photo11The surge and the establishment of the Sandinista movement in the ‘70s was supported by poets whose works form a significant part this collection. These authors are among Nicaragua’s most recognised poets: Fernando Silva, Julio-Valle Castillo, David McField, Tomás Borge, Pablo Centeno-Gómez and Fransisco de Asís Fernández.

Photo12Photo13Also central to the Nicaraguan poetry of this time is the work of poet-combatants such as Tomás Borge and Luis Vega.

Photo14

Yet the most striking are the writings of poet-combatants killed in the revolutionary struggle, such as Leonel Rugama (1949-1970), Ernesto Castillo Salaverry, who died at the age of twenty, and Gaspar García Laviana, a Spanish priest who became a Sandinista leader.Photo15

I am very grateful to Joanne Edwards and Frank Egerton for giving me the possibility to freely explore this collection and learn so much about a country that is seldom in the mainstream media and yet whose influence on Latin American literature and identity, in terms of its committed poetry and also its liberation theology, has been so powerful.

Natalia Bermúdez Qvortrup
University College of Oslo and Akershus
Intern, Social Science Library, Bodleian Libraries

Further reading

Arellano, Jorge Eduardo (1997) Literatura Nicaraguense. Managua: Ediciones Distribuidora Cultural.

Beverley, John and Marc Zimmerman (1990) Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: University of Texas.

Forster, Merlin H. and K.David Jackson (1990) Vanguardism in Latin American Literature: An annotated Bibliographical Guide. New York: Greenwood Press.

Pring-Mill, Robert “ Both in Sorrow and in Anger: Spanish American protest poetry” Cambridge Review  vol.91/ 2195 (1970).

 

Playing Shakespeare in German

IMG_2885 - compressed

The Taylor Institution’s ‘Shakespeare in Translation’ exhibition illustrates the broad linguistic scope of Shakespeare reception across Europe. His plays have a particularly long history of adaptation and translation in German. This post explores some of the milestones in that history, from anonymous reinterpretation while Shakespeare was still writing, all the way to Brecht’s radio plays the twentieth century, via the authoritative Schlegel-Tieck edition of the early nineteenth century.

The Beginning

In 1586, the English comedians arrived in Germany, and continued to perform until 1660. It was they who provided Germany’s introduction to Shakespeare, during the playwright’s lifetime. Their repertoire included plays loosely based on Shakespeare’s – emphasis on the word ‘loosely’. The name ‘Shakespeare’, however, was not associated with these plays, and is generally thought not to have been mentioned in Germany until Daniel Georg Morhof’s Unterricht von der Teutschen Sprache und Poesie in 1682. Even if divorced from the name of Shakespeare, these plays do represent very early reception of his works in Germany. Some of the texts survive, both in fairly modern and near-contemporary editions, of which the oldest is Englische Comedien und Tragedien (1620). The eighth play in this collection is a German translation and adaptation of Titus Andronicus, making it the first of Shakespeare’s plays to be printed in Germany, as well as the first to be printed in England. Its temporal proximity to the earliest English performances of the play, as well as that fact of its being performed by English actors (some in English, and some in German), mean that we can learn a great deal about the history of Titus Andronicus and its original performance from this printing.

Collected Plays in Translation

Shakespe11.WielandShakespeare Theatralische Werke Band 1 p129 - compressedare’s popularity took off in Germany in the eighteenth century, when German commentaries on his work first began to appear. Although his name had been known in Germany since Morhof in 1682, and to French-reading audiences through Voltaire’s Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais, the real development did not come for another eighty years, with Christoph Martin Wieland’s Shakespear: theatralische Werke (1762). Although Wieland did not translate all of the plays, English-language scholars of Shakespeare in Germany are united in their assessment of the significance of this publication:

 

 

Simon Williams: ‘It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Wieland’s translation in the introduction of Shakespeare into German’ (Williams, p. 52)

Roger Paulin: ‘no serious discussion of Shakespeare’s text could … be expected much   before 1762, the date of the first volume of Wieland’s translation’ (Paulin, p. 21)

Wieland’s work was neither definitive nor complete, and J.J. Eschenburg built upon it in the next decade with William Shakespear’s Schauspiele. Neue Ausgabe (1775-77, 1782). It was, though, the appearance of Schlegel’s translation (1797-1810) which irrevocably changed Germany’s relationship with Shakespeare. Schlegel’s work become the standard German Shakespeare translation, largely because of his famous principle ‘alles im Deutschen Thunliche’. Paulin summarises the impact of this approach, which:

‘means that Shakespeare can be both translatable and German … For Schlegel, poetic             rendition was an absolute requirement, not an option’ (Paulin, p. 303)

In the 1820s, Ludwig Tieck re-edited Schlegel’s translations to produce Shakespeare’s dramatische Werke. Uebersetzt von August Wilhelm von Schlegel, ergänzt und erläutert von Ludwig Tieck (1825-33). In the introduction, Tieck takes it upon himself to warn his readers against another set of translations which began appearing in the intervening 14.SchlegelTieckShakespeareÔÇÖs Werke SchlegelTieck Title Page 2 - compressedyears between Schlegel’s original publication, and his own reissue: that of Johann Heinrich Voss and his sons, Shakespeare’s Schauspiele von Johann Heinrich Voß und dessen Söhnen Heinrich Voß und Abraham Voß (1818-1829). Schlegel was not himself involved in this new version and was furious, both at the reissue of his work, and at Tieck’s supposed improvements (Paulin, p. 344). The Schlegel-Tieck edition is viewed as a ‘German classic in its own right’ (Korte and Spittel, p. 269), and Friedrich Gundolf viewed Schlegel’s work as the endpoint and the high-point of a development of Shakespeare as belonging to the German spirit, which had begun with Lessing (Gundolf, p. 356). But it was also a question of timing. George Steiner describes Schlegel’s translations as ‘formidable re-creations of the English text [which] coincided precisely with the time in which the German language was coming of literary age’ (Steiner, p. 156).

The Schlegel-Tieck edition, however seminal, did not put an end to the translation of Shakespeare into German. Paulin identifies the translations by Ernst Ortlieb (W. Shakespeare’s dramatische Werke (1842-43)) and Friedrich Bodenstedt (William Shakespeare’s Dramatische Werke (1867-71) as having been undervalued (Paulin, pp. 331, 329), and indeed they have received little modern critical attention. Moving into the twentieth century, Friedrich Gundolf’s enduring contribution to Shakespeare studies must be his Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist (1911), but a decade later he published Shakespeare in deutscher Sprache (1920-22). This, though, is ‘today only [of] antiquarian interest’ (Paulin, p. 488).

Translations of Individual Plays

20.Schroeder Ko¦ênig Lear Title Page - compressedWhere translations of individual works are concerned, we see some famous names, and some that are less familiar. The Taylor Institution holds several translations by the actor, theatre manager, and dramatist F.L. Schröder, including his Hamlet and König Lear (both editions 1778), as well as Gottfried August Burger’s Macbeth (1783). Schröder’s production of Hamlet had a particular influence on German literature, for it inspires the hero of Goethe’s Wilhem Meister’s Lehrjahre (himself named for Shakespeare) to want to put on a complete German version of the play. Hamlet, indeed, is discussed at length in the novel. Bürger, meanwhile, was Schlegel’s mentor, and although Schlegel had little complimentary to say about this version of Macbeth in later life, ‘it was Bürger who in 1789-93 was able to instil in the young Schlegel the confidence to produce a verse Midsummer Night’s Dream quite distinct from Wieland’s’ (Paulin, p. 311). Seventeen years later, Schiller also produced an adapted translation of Macbeth, and in 1812, Goethe, who as theatre director in Weimar produced a number of Shakespeare’s plays, put on his own adapted version of Romeo and Juliet, although thereafter he lost interest in translating Shakespeare. Moving forward over a century, we come to Bertolt Brecht, who used elements of many of Shakespeare’s plays in his writing, and whose free adaptations were tailored to his own critical and political purposes. In October 1927, his adaptation of Macbeth was performed on the Berliner Rundfunk radio station, but the manuscript is now lost. The same station also broadcast his Hamlet in 1931. Between 1951 and 1953 Brecht also produced a partial translation of Coriolanus. Although it remained unfinished, it was nonetheless translated back into English by Ralph Manheim.

Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s popularity in Germany shows no sign of waning. He is perhaps as present in German schools as in English. Despite the great variety of interpretation made possible through the different acts of translation outlined above, however, the status of Schlegel’s achievement means that German has a standard version of Shakespeare which has something like the status which the original has in English. But while this post has focused on German translators of Shakespeare, they are only one aspect of German Shakespeare reception. Germany also has a long tradition of Shakespeare critics and commentators, some of whose names are well known, and some of whose stories have been almost forgotten.

Mary Boyle
University of Oxford

Resources:

Print:

  • Bate, Jonathan (ed.), Titus Andronicus, the Arden Shakespeare (London and New York: Routledge, 1995)
  • Gundolf, Friedrich, Shakespeare und der deutsche Geist (Berlin: Bondi, 1911)
  • Guntner, Lawrence, ‘Rewriting Shakespeare: Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, and the Politics of Performance’ in Shakespeare and European Politics (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008), pp. 179-195
  • Korte, Barbara, and Christina Spittel. “Shakespeare Under Different Flags: The Bard in German Classrooms from Hitler to Honecker”. Journal of Contemporary History2 (2009): 267–286.
  • Paulin, Roger, The Critical Reception of Shakespeare in Germany: 1682-1914 (Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms, 2003)
  • Steiner, George, The Death of Tragedy (Faber & Faber, new edition 2010)
  • Williams, Simon, Shakespeare on the German Stage, 1: 1586-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, repr. 2004)

Online

 

 

Shall I compare thee? Shakespeare in Translation Exhibition in the Taylorian

On 12 April, 6pm, Library Graduate Trainee Philippa Taylor pulled off the cover from the display case in the vestibule of the Voltaire Room and revealed to an admiring crowd of linguists, librarians and literature lovers four versions of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’: a Portuguese translation printed in Lisbon in 1977, Aimé Césaire’s adaptation pour un théâtre nègre from 1969, the typescript of the only Frisian translation with commentary extant and, as crowning piece, a wonderfully atmospheric large colour print from a French artist’s book based on the translation by A. du Couchet.

Tempest

The Tempest arrangement forms the final case in a new exhibition in the Taylor Institution dedicated to Shakespeare in translation. The idea for putting this on was sparked by the lucky coincidence of a symposium on Ulrike Draesner, Writer-in-Residence at the German Sub-Faculty in 2015-16, and the Shakespeare 2016 events going on in Oxford. A few years ago, Ulrike had published her “radical translations” of 17 Shakespeare sonnets, set in a post-modern world of reproduction not via nature as in Shakespeare’s sonnets but via cloning. This had inspired German lecturer, translator and poet Tom Cheesman to venture a back-translation in which he “Englished” her versions again. Emma Huber as German Subject Librarian and Henrike Lähnemann as Professor for Medieval German, working together on the Reformation 2017 project, were just looking for a test case to trial a new form of library booklet as print-on-demand. They both thought that this would be the perfect copy: Shakespeare – put into German – returned to English in a literature-generating movement characteristic for Modern Languages in dialogue.

The exhibition spirals out from the display cases in the centre of the Voltaire Room. Standing high, the oldest cabinet which has seen many a distinguished publication from first editions to brand new research publications shows the genesis of ‘Twin Spin’, the Shakespeare x Draesner x Cheesman sonnet version.

Central case

The largest cabinet next to it is needed to show at least a fraction of the over 180 attempts to render Shakespeare sonnets in German, starting with Dorothea Tieck’s take on it as part of the classic ‘Schlegel-Tieck-Ausgabe’ which made Shakespeare – at least in the eyes of nineteenth century Germans – a truly German author. A special focus is on the early 20th century bibliophile versions of Stefan George and Friedrich Huch, which provide an eye-catching display in contrast to the typescript aesthetics of the 1980s and 1990s, when Shakespeare was in vogue with the likes of the singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann.

Spiralling outward from the central cabinets are two cases crammed with again just a small selection of sonnet translations into other European languages, from Sorbian to Yiddish, emphasising – as an Italian dissertation on display claims – that Shakespeare speaks ‘da poeta a poeta’. The rich material on literary engagement with Shakespeare is then taken beyond the sonnets in samples of translations of his plays across the languages – and across the media to visual material and DVDs. The Tempest display case mentioned at the beginning provides a final case study of how much more could be explored.

case5-glass

The exhibition was curated by Henrike Lähnemann (Professor of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics), together with Emilia Henderson and Philippa Taylor and the help of the Taylor Institution staff. Special thanks go to Lydia Pryce-Jones who designed the cover image, to Emma Huber for master-minding the operation, and to Clare Hills-Nova for her curatorial expertise! So this is an exhibition that invites visitors on a journey to discover more of the astonishing treasures of the Taylorian while engaging with Shakespeare. The catalogue of the exhibition can be downloaded here; the full edition of ‘Twin Spin’ can be bought in the Taylorian at the Issue Desk or ordered from online retailers (ISBN 978-0-9954564-0-2). This first pamphlet from the Taylor Institution Library is published on the day of Shakespeare’s 400th death day, showing that he is very much alive – not least through the constant renewal in translation.

Endangered Languages and language documentation

The Taylorian is known for its collections on Modern European Languages, be it East- or West-European. Apart from the main collections including German, French, Russian, Polish to  mention a few, the Taylorian also houses less well known collections on minority languages, such as Welsh and Breton within the Celtic section or Occitan and Yiddish. To familiarise a wider audience with these ‘hidden treasures’ of the Taylorian, the seminar series ‘Introducing Endangered Languages’ was organised in Michaelmas Term 2015. The seminars were kindly given by Oxford specialists.

Prof. Mary Dalrymple gave an introduction to language endangerment in the first seminar and paid special attention to a critically endangered language Dusner in West Papua with only three speakers left. Some of the questions she discussed were :

How many Languages are there? What constitutes a language?

The total number of languages in the world can only be estimated at around 7000. It is difficult to be certain, and it depends on what counts as a language. E.g. is Chinese one language or are Mandarin, Cantonese and other dialects regarded as separate languages?  And is Arabic one language or does Egyptian Arabic count as a separate language? Assuming Chinese is one language, than it is the most spoken language in the world with more than a billion speakers. Second comes Spanish, followed by English.  Here is a list of most spoken languages from the Ethnologue.

 

ethnologue

When is a language endangered?

Interestingly, 94% of the world population speaks only 6% of the world languages, so most people speak a main stream language as their first language. This also means that 6% of the world population speaks 94% of the world languages, so each of these languages have relatively small numbers of speakers. Numbers of speakers may vary: 10.000, 1000, 100 or even just 10 first language speakers. Over 300 languages have no first language speakers at all, all speakers are bilingual and use the minority language only in certain ‘domains’ e.g. home and family, whereas the major language may be used at school, work etc. Many of these languages without first language speakers are at risk to be ‘overtaken’ by the mainstream language.

ethnologue 2

Most users of the Taylorian will have heard of European minority languages, such as Breton or Frisian, although languages like Friulian or Istro-Romanian are less well known. Most countries in Europe can be proud of having one or a few minority languages spoken within their borders. In terms of ‘language density’ however Europe is fairly ‘poor’, other regions in the world may have many more languages within one country. One of the most densely ‘languaged’ regions is South-East Asia. It is assumed that there are at least 1000 minority languages in Papua New Guinea alone, many of which have not even been documented. In the language-rich province of West-Papua in Indonesia there is a language on the brink of dying out: Dusner, an Austronesian language, only spoken by three people over 60. Fortunately, Prof. Dalrymple was just in time to meet them in April 2011. Flying out in a hurry to West-Papua after Dr Mofu had discovered Dusner, she then travelled to the idyllic village of Dusner that can only be reached by boat.

Dusner

Atlas of the world's languages in danger Moseley, Christopher & Nicolas, Alexandre. Paris: Unesco, 2010. Taylor Library Linguistics Collection P40.5.L33 ATL 2010.

Atlas of the world’s languages in danger Moseley, Christopher & Nicolas, Alexandre. Paris: Unesco, 2010. Taylor Library Linguistics Collection P40.5.L33 ATL 2010.

Together with Dr Mofu who holds a D.Phil. from Oxford, she interviewed these last speakers  to record their language. The Dusner speakers are featured below (from the project website http://dusner.clp.ox.ac.uk/). For those interested in the sound of Dusner, the website holds audio recordings of the interviews.

These interviews were the basis of a language documentation project which resulted in the publication of the first grammar of Dusner  (by Mary Dalrymple & Suriel Mofu).

grammar

Small languages like Dusner are really valuable from a linguistic point of view, since they often maintain the more complex linguistic constructions, whereas major languages will have been simplified to make them easier to acquire by adults. English is an example of a language that simplified over time. For example In Anglosaxon there were different verbal endings as in helpe, hilpst, hilpƥ, helpaƥ, helpe, helpen (present tense of helpan ‘to help’) whereas in Modern English there are only two forms in the present: help, helps.

 

 

A remarkable feature of Dusner is the number system: it is a base five system, this means that there are separate words for one, two, three, four and five but six is expressed as ‘five one’ and seven as ‘five two’. Ten is a new word, eleven is ‘ten one’ and sixteen is expressed as ‘ten five one’.

Dusner numbers

The grammar is the only one book on Dusner ever published and this is held in the Bodleian. The Taylorian holds a good collection on endangered languages more in general, the list of recommended resources can be found below.

I’m grateful to Prof. Dalrymple for letting me use her slides and for giving me permission to use the table of  Dusner numbers and the two tables on numbers of speakers, both based on information from Ethnologue.

Johanneke Sytsema, Linguistics Librarian

Further Reading

Dusner

Dalrymple, Mary and Suriel Mofu  (2012) Dusner. Muenchen : Lincom Europa
Closed Stack  M12.F01716

 Florey, Margaret J (2010) Endangered languages of Austronesia. Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Closed Stack  M09.E12948

Language Endangerment
De Dominicis, Amedeo (2006). Undescribed and endangered languages : the preservation of linguistic diversity. Newcastle-upon-Tyne : Cambridge Scholars.
Closed Stack. Also online through SOLO.

Crystal, David (2014). Language Death. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
Taylor Institution Library Linguistics Collection P40.5.L33 CRY 2014

Harris, K.D. (2007) When Languages Die. The extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. Oxford: OUP.
Taylor Institution Library Teaching Collection P.40.5.L33 HAR 2007

Evans, Nicholas (2010). Dying words : endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Chichester, U.K. ; Malden, MA : Wiley-Blackwell.
Taylor Institution Library Linguistics Collection P40.5.E53 EVA 2009.

Fishman, Joshua A. (1991). Reversing language shift : theoretical and empirical foundations of assistance to threatened languages. Clevedon : Multilingual Matters.
Taylor Institution Library Linguistics Collection ALN.8000.A.45

Fishman, Joshua A (2001). Can threatened languages be saved? : reversing language shift, revisited : a 21st century perspective. Clevedon : Multilingual Matters.
Bodleian Library Lower Gladstone Link Open Shelves (UBHU) M01.F01417.

Gordon, Raymond G. (2005). Ethnologue : languages of the world. Dallas, SIL International.
Closed Stack M05.D01883.

Miyaoka, Osahito, Osamu Sakiyama and Michael E. Krauss (2007) The vanishing languages of the Pacific rim. Oxford : Oxford University.
Taylor Institution Library Linguistics Collection P381.P3 VAN 2007

Nettle, Daniel & Suzanne Romaine (2000) Vanishing Voices: the extinction of the world’s languages.Oxford: OUP.
Taylor Institution Library Teaching Collection P40.5.L33 NET 2000

Thomason, Sarah Grey & Verónica María (2015)Endangered languages : an introduction
Taylor Institution Library Teaching Collection  P40.5.E53 THO 2015

Tsunoda, Tasaku (2006). Language endangerment and language revitalization : an introduction. Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter.
Taylor Institution Library Teaching Collection P40.5 L28 TSU 2004

Atlases

Wurm, S. A.& Theo Baumann (1996). Atlas of the world’s languages in danger of disappearing. Paris : Unesco ; Canberra : Pacific Linguistics.
Bodleian Library Weston RBMSS Open Shelves G1.B1.53 Maps.

Moseley, Christopher & R.E. Asher (1994). Atlas of the world’s languages. London : Routledge.
Taylor Institution Library (Graduate Studies Room) L.ATL.B.AA.4
(See also the online interactive version http://www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php)

Moseley, Christopher & Alexandre Nicolas (2010) Atlas of the world’s languages in danger. 3rd ed. Paris : United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Taylor Institution Library Linguistics Collection P40.5.L33 ATL 2010

Moseley, Christopher (2012). The UNESCO atlas of the world’s languages in danger : context and process. Cambridge : World Oral Literature Project.
Closed Stack

Personal accounts
Everett, Daniel Leonard (2009). Don’t sleep, there are snakes : life and language in the Amazonian jungle. London : Profile.
Closed Stack M09.G01855

Abley, Mark (2005).Spoken here : travels among threatened languages. London : Arrow Books.
Taylor Institution Library Teaching Collection P40.5.L33 ABL 2005

Drysdale, Helena.(2002). Mother tongues : travels through tribal Europe. London : Picador.
Closed Stack M02.G02997

Web Resources

Foundation for Endangered Languages http://www.ogmios.org/bibliography/index.php

Ethnologue http://www.ethnologue.com/

The Endangered Languages Project. A project to support language preservation and documentation around the world by the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity.The catalogue contains information on 3228 languages. Includes interactive map. http://www.endangeredlanguages.com

SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) http://www.sil.org/about/endangered-languages (includes interactive map and list of publications)

Italian Characters in Search of an Author

Siena-Resized

Siena and its environs (Photograph by Gianmaria Bonari)

A few years ago, Petra Pertici, an expert on fifteenth-century Tuscan culture, published an article entitled Novelle senesi in cerca d’autore (Pertici 2011), in which she discusses the identity of the author of an important collection of novellas previously attributed to ‘Gentile Sermini da Siena’. Written in the early decades of the fifteenth century, these novellas (forty in total, preceded by a dedicatory letter) were the work of someone certainly familiar with the town of Siena, as well as with the culture and society of other parts of Tuscany and the Italian peninsula. The use that the author made of this familiarity, with significant if uneven literary results, has long given the Novelle a place in the history of Italian prose-writing. They lie in a chronologically intermediate position between earlier collections of greater reputation – those of Sacchetti and Sercambi, and especially Boccaccio’s masterpiece, the Decameron – and the later works of Masuccio Salernitano and others. The licentious nature of many of the Novelle attributed to Sermini, however, would seem to have hindered a full appreciation of this work, and perhaps also the identification of the text’s real author. Pertici recalls that previous scholars had obliquely indicated the possibility that the author was no less than Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464), better known as Pope Pius II. Along similar lines, she develops the hypothesis that the Novelle were written by the distinguished politician and military leader Antonio Petrucci (1400-1471), another member of the same culturally-advanced elite formed of sophisticated and socially-privileged Sienese of the time. In a series of recent publications, Pertici has supported this hypothesis by assembling and discussing a wide range of evidence (most of it persuasive, though not yet conclusive – see Caruso forthcoming).

Di Legami, Flora. Le novelle di Gentile Sermini (Rome: Antenore, 2009)

Di Legami, Flora. Le novelle di Gentile Sermini (Rome: Antenore, 2009)

Indeed, the collection contains various traces of a relatively uncommon intellectual independence and moral audacity. Some novellas include unconventional erotic triangles, where husbands who neglect their wives, or fail to treat them with sufficient courtesy, are finally forced to give them up to younger, more charming lovers. The female characters, meanwhile, are not passive goods for exchange, but often take on a much more active role. In other cases, the way in which characters are presented is influenced by another typical feature of early-fifteenth-century urban elites – namely, their sense of superiority and often ironic disapproval with regard to the manners and doings of those living in the countryside (clumsy peasants, self-indulgent clerics, and other members of the rural world). In the third novella, this urbane attitude takes a sinister, conservative turn when it combines with a more radical condemnation of the greed of individuals from the rising social classes: the curt and business-minded Scopone, who lives in the countryside but has no intention of obeying the cultural and economic rules set by the local landlord, is beaten up and publicly humiliated until he finally conforms to traditional values and social hierarchies.

Testa, Enrico. Simulazione di parlato. Fenomeni dell’oralità nelle novelle del Quattro-Cinquecento (Florence: Accademia della Crusca, 1991

Testa, Enrico. Simulazione di parlato. Fenomeni dell’oralità nelle novelle del Quattro-Cinquecento (Florence: Accademia della Crusca, 1991)

This taste for descriptions, attentive to the divergent behaviours of different social and geographical milieus, is also the basis of another feature that makes the Novelle a most valuable historical document. I refer here to the linguistic characterization – not only of individual speakers, but also of shouting gangs and crowds (as in the intermezzo, set in Siena, which appears after the sixth novella – see Pseudo Sermini 2012, pp. 194-200 – as well as in the first novella, set in Perugia). Especially in the case of characters from Perugia, the author would seem to have been extremely accurate in reproducing their variety, and to have done so not only in terms of lexical choices, but also at the level of phonological and morphological developments (especially diphthongization and metaphony – see Stussi 1993, p. 146; and for a more recent and detailed account, see Marchi 2010-2011). On the one hand, commentators have long pointed to the mimesis of various Tuscan and non-Tuscan varieties as a fascinating feature of Sermini’s Novelle (e.g. Vigo 1894, pp. xi-xii), all the more important as it pertains to a period for which we do not have many other works in which dialects are used to represent realistically – or to hyper-characterize – the inhabitants of particular areas. On the other hand, however, it is not easy to use this kind of information about Italy’s vernacular languages: as we shall see, attempts in this direction have led to some problematic outcomes, especially in the absence of an authoritative edition of the Novelle.

Novelle di autori senesi (2 vols.) (London: Riccardo Bancker, 1796-1798)

Novelle di autori senesi (2 volumes) (London: Riccardo Bancker, 1796-1798)

The Bodleian Libraries – and the Taylorian in particular – hold various items that help trace the editorial history of Sermini’s Novelle. These include partial editions published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some of which are also digitally available, as well as complete editions (Sermini 1911 and 1968) and the recent critical edition by Monica Marchi (where the name of the author is finally given as Pseudo Sermini 2012).* The earlier editions were largely based on a manuscript held at the Biblioteca Estense in Modena (It. 282 = α. H. 8. 15), which bears palaeographic and linguistic traces of a non-Sienese origin. According to Pertici (2013), this version of the text of the Novelle was copied by Masolino da Montolmo, who was born in what is now Corridonia (in the Marche region, close to the Adriatic coast) and then went on to become one of Petrucci’s assistants.** Linguistically, the Biblioteca Estense manuscript has various northern Italian features, but occasionally also preserves forms which seem compatible with the author’s Tuscan background: for instance, at the beginning of the twelfth novella, this manuscript has m’allogiai ‘I stayed’, which in Marchi’s edition is replaced by the less distinctive synonym m’albergai. The second manuscript containing the Novelle (Biblioteca Marciana, Venice, It. VIII, 16 = 6167) is more recent (it dates from the second half of the fifteenth century) and shows traces of linguistic normalization; but it has the advantage of being written in Tuscan as well as offering a far more accurate transcription of the text in comparison to the Biblioteca Estense version. Marchi has therefore decided to use the Biblioteca Marciana manuscript as the basis for her critical edition.

A modern edition of the Novelle (Sermini 1911)

A modern edition of the Novelle (Sermini 1911)

As we have already seen, scholars in historical linguistics have long been encouraged to take notice of Sermini’s work. Even in the absence of an autograph (and of sufficiently certain information about the real author), the available manuscripts provide reliable attestations of non-standard words and expressions that can still be heard in Siena, and/or in the surrounding countryside, at least in the speech of the older generation. Examples include: mira ‘look!’, rovito ‘red-hot’, molle ‘wet’, catrasta ‘stack of wood’ (cf. Standard Italian catasta), banca ‘bench’ (St. It. panca), gattivo ‘bad’ (St. It. cattivo), the double consonants in doppo ‘after’ (St. It. dopo) and robba ‘stuff’ (St. It. roba), the assimilation in portallo ‘to bring it’ (St. It. portarlo), the past volse ‘(s)he wanted’ (St. It. volle) and fusti ‘you were’ (St. It. fosti), second person singular imperatives ending in -e (e.g. scende ‘get off’, as opposed to St. It. scendi), and personal pronouns with the addition of -ne, as in tene ‘you’.

Materials on Tuscan linguistic varieties in the Taylorian Collections

Materials on Tuscan linguistic varieties in the Taylorian Collections

In addition to the linguistic features mentioned above, some scholars have also claimed to have found something less predictable, and therefore potentially even more significant. In the twelfth novella, the narrator tells us that, while in a hilly area near Siena, he overheard a conversation between a man named Roncone and some other peasants, all of them grossi et materiali ‘uneducated and coarse’ (Pseudo Sermini 2012, p. 282). He then incorporates their conversation in his narration, reporting the words of these local peasants as they were uttered. Focusing on Roncone’s direct speech, Testa (1991), Franceschini (1996) and Romanini (2014) highlight the presence of the sound [d] in brigada ‘group of friends, folks’, and most notably in the participial ending of semenado ‘sown’. Modern Standard Italian, which is largely based on medieval Florentine, retains [t] in brigata and seminato. So Roncone’s words suggest that the medieval varieties spoken near Siena had been affected by voicing of intervocalic consonants to a higher degree than the varieties spoken in Florence (the term voicing is used here to refer to a phonological process fairly similar to what we find in varieties of English in which a word such as British almost sounds like Bridish). This would probably add a crucial piece of evidence to what we know about the history of Italian consonants. (On the much debated topic of voicing in Tuscany, and on its importance for Italian and Romance linguistics, see among others Weinrich 1958, Contini 1960, Maiden 1995, and Canalis 2014.) However, the reconstruction of pronunciation (i.e. oral speech) on the basis of written records is always a problematic task, whose results are inevitably exposed to various types and degrees of contradiction. In this case, moreover, the problem becomes particularly acute in the light of Marchi’s recent edition, in which brigata and seminato are both spelt with t (see Pseudo Sermini 2012, p. 289). The variants with d come from the Estense manuscript, and may be due to those northern linguistic incrustations which, together with other factors, led Marchi to favour the manuscript of the Biblioteca Marciana.

In any case, this last methodological point is only one of the many examples that confirm the potential interest of the Novelle – a treasure trove of materials that can be usefully mined by the historian of Italian culture and literature, and of Italy’s dialects alike.

Alessandro Carlucci
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages

Notes:

* There is also an English translation of some of the Novelle in Thomas Roscoe, The Italian novelists (4 volumes) (London: Septimus Prowett, 1825).

** The Bodleian’s Special Collections (at the Weston Library) also hold Petrucci’s zibaldone containing Latin and vernacular texts (MSS. Canoniciani italici 50; see Pertici 2011, pp. 701-703).

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