RSS feed

Pilar Ezpeleta Piorno (2007). Teatro y traducción. Aproximación interdisciplinaria desde la obra de Shakespeare.

Madrid: Catedra, 432 pp. 17 €  ISBN 978-84-376-2427-3.

Responding to the increasingly interdisplinary focus in Translation Studies, Ezpeleta Piorno's latest volume draws on the insights and analytical framework of previous texts, such her own El análisis del texto dramático para la traducción: el caso de Shakespeare (2002), together with a wealth of practical experience with the Instituto Shakespeare in translation and translator training, to produce a meticulously detailed map for the textual analysis of dramatic texts. Firmly rooted within functional approaches to translation and language, ranging from Halliday and his followers in the Anglophone world to Reiss, Vermeer and Nord and more immediate influences such as Montalt, the study sets out a model of source text analysis that combines communicative, pragmatic and semantic translational action, thus interweaving consideration of genre and register, speech act theory as applied to theatre, as well as a more limited range of resources on Shakespeare's social and cultural context. To this framework, which is painstakingly developed through much of the second part of the volume before proposing a summary model (366-406), Ezpeleta adds a brief overview of previous studies of theatre translation (139-59) and a first part on the functional characteristics of theatre texts. It is this first part on'Del teatro y el drama' which contains the most useful and impressive work of synthesis of different interdisciplinary approaches to literature and theatre, developing and defending a clear and convincing thesis about the status of the dramatic text that steers between defenders of its priority over theatrical performance and the more widespread contemporary visions of its subordination to the performance text. This underpins her representation of recent approaches to theatre translation, and thus her approval of the later studies of Bassnett over the more adaptational positions of Johnston et al, but it also provides a marvellous introduction to textual linguistic studies of theatre, which would merit translation for a wider audience.

The rest of the volume is somewhat less satisfying, largely because, in its aim to provide the translator of dramatic texts with 'un repertorio de categorías relevantes para la traducción, de modo que no necesite trasladarse fuera del ámbito de lo dramático a buscarlas en otros modelos de análisis para la traducción, más generales o pensados para otro tipo de textos; o fuera del ámbito de la traducción a buscarlas en estudios sore teatro y drama' (367),  it tries to cover too much, and thus it becomes less and less clear who the intended reader might be. Whilst the main title of the volume, Teatro y traducción, reveals the principal aim to be the production of a general model of translational analysis of theatre texts, its specific focus on Anglophone theatre, and above all Shakespeare, might be seen as somewhat limiting from a cultural studies perspective. Whereas the level of background detail it goes into on functional approaches and discourse analysis, lends it the feel of a far more basic pedagogical manual for advanced undergraduates. For readers who are at all familiar with the recent spate of interdisciplinary translation studies, it will be, above all, the first part and perhaps the model at the very end that will add anything to their knowledge base. As a manual for undergraduate students, though, it certainly offers a useful introduction to a wide range of skills and resources, and will, I think, certainly help them to become more sensitive to the features of dramatic language.

Ezpeleta Piorno chooses appropriate quotations and sections from the Shakespearian corpus to support her explanation of each of the categories, functions and speech acts performed, and it is here that we see the real profundity of her engagement with a series of texts, in particular Hamlet, which she uses to test her model of translational analysis at the end, and Macbeth. However, whilst she recognises the complexities of Shakespearian textual scholarship, her almost exclusive reference to the Wells and Taylor edition of the Complete Works points to a more general weakness in her volume. The range of background resources and criticism on Shakespeare is rather limited,   largely to pre-1980s Anglophone studies and available Spanish criticism, much of it emanating from the Instituto Shakespeare itself. This is unfortunate, because the large body of materialist and performance histories of Shakespeare are all but ignored, when, even if we broadly agree with Ezpeleta's championing of the dramatic text, they cannot help but increase our insights into the communicative, discursive and theatrical power of Shakespeare's texts. Also lacking, in a volume probably intended principally for Spanish (trainee) translators, are any examples of translation into Spanish, which has, I think, the unfortunate side-effect of reminding us of the corresponding gulf between rigorous theorisation of the translation process and the functional adequacy of actual translation products. In their prologue, Conejero and Montalt suggest that Ezpeleta Piorno overcomes the deficiencies of abstract theoretical approaches that are too far-removed from practice and rooted in 'lo que han dicho otros autores' (13), yet she provides few examples of interlingual translation practice, and applies her model of translational analysis to no more than the opening lines of Hamlet; 'the rest is silence'. With Hamlet himself we are left with the sense that: 'There are more things in heaven and earth..../ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy' (Ham I.v l.184-5).

Helena Buffery, University of Birmingham