Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Strange cocktail: Poetics and practices of translation in twentieth century modern Hebrew poetry
by Jacobs, Adriana Ximena, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2010, 251; 3410993
Abstract (Summary)

“Strange Cocktail: Poetics and Practices of Translation in Twentieth Century Modern Hebrew Poetry” outlines the relation between translation and original writing in the development of twentieth century Modern Hebrew and Israeli poetry, focusing on the works of Esther Raab, Leah Goldberg, Avot Yeshurun and Harold Schimmel. Through the practice of translation, and by incorporating translation strategies into their own works, these poets created multilingual, heterogeneous and radical poetic languages against Israeli literature’s ethos of monolingualism, in the process situating their work in alternate literary trajectories and genealogies that remain largely neglected in contemporary Israeli literary discourse. This project explores how the resistance of poetic language to monolingualism increasingly problematized the status of poetry in Israel’s national canon; the relation between translation and memory; and an understanding, expressed by many of these writers, of poetic language as translation.

In the pre-Statehood period, as the Israeli literary scholar Chana Kronfeld has observed, the translation of Western European literary classics “enriched, indeed enabled, the production of a modern literature in the newly revived Hebrew language.” In my study, I also consider the possibility that in an early national context, and writing in a new and still developing language, translation was deeply embedded in the act of Modern Hebrew writing itself, particularly in the production of poetry. I argue that for many, if not all, early modern Hebrew poets (even a native-born writer like Raab), writing poetry in Hebrew was a translational practice. My project interrogates to what extent and in what ways translation disrupted the binaries of public/private, past/present, diaspora/territory, self/collective, exile/homeland and diasporic languages/Modern Hebrew that were instrumental in delineating the borders of the emerging Israeli literary canon. Additionally, how did the translation practices and strategies that these authors employed compare with they ways in which they approached their own writing?

In Traducción: literatura y literalidad, the Mexican poet Octavio Paz argues that “no text can be completely original because language itself, in its very essence, is already a translation.” By placing translation in the center, rather than the margins, of the Israeli literary canon, my project maps alternate literary trajectories and genealogies in modern Hebrew literature and proposes a model of national canon-formation shaped in, by and through translation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bermann, Sandra L.
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Middle Eastern literature, Judaic studies
Keywords: Israeli literature, Modern Hebrew literature, Modern Hebrew poetry, Poetry, Translation, Translation studies
Publication Number: 3410993
ISBN: 9781124051178
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