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The programme looks at the problems involved in translating poetry from one language to another, by concentrating on the process of translation. It takes as its thesis Donald Davie's argument that ...poetry is more locked into language than prose. James Kirkup, Fellow of Creative Writing at Sheffield University, takes us through the process of translating the poems by the French poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, He takes us first of all through a simple word by word translation. Then he revises his translation, explaining how he converts the concepts and effect of the original into English poetry. Michael Hamburger, the poet and translator, does the same with a poem by Rilke. The programme ends with a discussion which brings out some of the general problems of translation. The programme is introduced by Graham Martin, Reader in Literature, at The Open University. French Poems are read by Andre Maranne.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A306, Twentieth century poetry
Item code: A306; 07
First transmission date: 08-05-1974
Published: 1974
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:30
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Producer: Paul Kafno
Contributors: Michael Hamburger; James Kirkup; Andre Maranne; Graham Martin
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Language; Translated works
Subject terms: Poetry
Footage description: Poems include: Hamlet in French La Maison des Morts, Apollinaire La Tzigane, Apollinaire;The programme opens with Andre Maranne reciting from Hamlet in French. Graham Martin introduces the programme. He explains the difficulty of translating poetry because of its special use of language. To illustrate his point he shows how words such as 'sunset' and 'seascape' can refer to different images in different parts of the world James Kirkup, Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Sheffield, explains how he became interested in translating poetry. In particular he mentions the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire, over a photograph of the poet. Andre Maranne reads Apollinaire's poem La Maison des Morts in French. Kirkup analyses this poem in detail and provides a literal English translation. This is displayed in graphics. He then shows how to improve the stilted literal translation in order to recapture the poetic qualities of the French original. He then reads the improved version. Maranne reads in French another of Apollinaire's poems, La Tzigane. Kirkup provides a literal translation which is displayed in graphics on the screen. He then improves the English version, making a large number of poetic improvements. Graham Martin introduces the poet, Michael Hamburger. Hamburger reads in the original German an untitled poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. He then reads his final English translation of the poem. He explains some changes he has made to the literal sense of certain words. He also discusses with Martin the tradition of Classical verse in German poetry and the resultant difficulties that arise for translators. The programme concludes with Kirkup and Hamburger explaining to Graham Martin their views on translating poetry in general.
Master spool number: 6HT/71653
Production number: 00525_3192
Videofinder number: 718
Available to public: no