Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 September 2020
We live in a post-translation world in which we are learning to extend our perception of what constitutes translational activity and its consequences. This chapter explores two aspects of the translational practice of poets of the 1890s: its suffusive nature and its prosodic experimentalism. By suffusive translation is meant a translation sourced in a roundabout way, relying on different kinds of formal and multi-sensory bricolage and filtering, such that the poems translated are re-metabolized, infused with new expressive colourings, as much as they are simply assimilated. At the same time, these translations explore a new prosodic range in their sensitivity to phrasal rhythms or cadence, to tonal shaping and to vocal inhabitation. Verlaine is the principal but by no means only French presence in this loosening and developing range of expression, and the examples discussed are drawn from the work of, among others, Lord Alfred Douglas, Arthur Symons, John Gray and Theodore Wratislaw. The chapter argues that the translations these poets undertook made a significant difference to the ways in which verse might be envisaged by the following generation of English-speaking poets.
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