What happens when Shakespeare’s work is translated into foreign languages? Is it still Shakespeare? Or does something fundamental to the original evaporate in the process?
“Bless Thee! Thou Art Translated,” a podcast in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Unlimited series, raises these thought-provoking questions.
A translator can retain the story, characters, and ideas of a play, but the intricate wordplay proves much more difficult. For one thing, it’s impossible to translate Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter into a language like Korean, in which poetry is based on syllable counts, not stresses. And what is to be done with those well-crafted puns?
However, translation also opens up possibilities for new depths of meaning, as the familiar recedes and a different perspective takes over.
Sound interesting? Go ahead – take a short break from back-to-school prep and listen to this delightful podcast.
Do you have any of your own stories to share about encountering Shakespeare in a different language or culture? Tell us in the comments.