Translating the form: a process-based approach to translating the poems of Martinus Nijhoff (1894-1953) and Gerrit Achtergerg (1905-1962)

Fawcett, Antoinette (2013) Translating the form: a process-based approach to translating the poems of Martinus Nijhoff (1894-1953) and Gerrit Achtergerg (1905-1962). Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This study explores the poetic works of two major Dutch modernist poets, Martinus Nijhoff (1894-1953) and Gerrit Achterberg (1905-1962), from the point of view of translation. Both poets created their poems with a strong attention to formal qualities, with consequent stylistic effects which may be difficult to translate. Through a combination of critical analysis and translation-based creative practice the thesis examines which aspects of form seem most salient in the work of each poet and which aspects, therefore, the translator-poet might attempt to convey in translation.

In Chapter 1 the guiding notion of the thesis is examined. Since both poets placed a strong emphasis on process as central to their poetics, a similar process-based approach is proposed as a route into the translation of their poems. This is followed by an initial commentary which examines some of my own earlier, and problematic, translation strategies. The study is then structured so that the specific aspects of form explored in each of the main chapters, rhythm (Chapter 2), phrasing, pausing and breath (Chapter 3), and sound and iconicity (Chapter 4), are inter-punctuated with further commentaries in which these aspects are approached through practical experiments. The commentaries are intended not only to exemplify my own translation process, but also to suggest several innovative models for a psychophysiological approach to formal poetic translation.

My aim has been twofold: to find ways of representing formally salient aspects of Nijhoff’s and Achterberg’s poetry in translations which are also poems, and to make their work better known beyond the Dutch literary system. I conclude that a whole-body attention to the aspects of form explored in this study, coupled with a non-schematic approach to rhyme, may help the translator find a way out of the blind alley created by the opposition between free and formal translation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Users 5605 not found.
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2014 09:14
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2017 00:38

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