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14 - Traveling in Place: Baroque Lyric Transports in Translation, or Flames that Bridge the Stream

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2014

Amanda Powell
Affiliation:
University of Oregon
Jean Andrews
Affiliation:
Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Nottingham
Isabel Torres
Affiliation:
Professor of Spanish Golden Age Literature at Queen's University, Belfast
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Summary

The title ‘Poetry in Motion’ suits the travel across language, culture, and time that constitutes literary translation. Across what bridge, by what mode, can a text arrive at the further shore – ‘[a] esotra parte, en la ribera’ – transformed to a new language and occupying a foreign literary context, yet with intangible spirit intact? Does it best travel naked or robed, empty-handed or with baggage? In particular, how do we bring across Baroque lyric: rhymed, metered, allusive, with incisively doubled meaning or gorgeously encrusted figuration. Should highly ornate originals be simplified in translation, in order to make them understandable? The paradoxically swift stillness and profuse simplicity expressed in classical Epicurean thought, and its relationship to the more familiar Stoicism, suggest a model not only for reading but rendering these poems into another language.

In this essay I splice two themes. First, an infrequently mentioned philosophical engagement with ‘Neo-’ or Christianized Epicureanism shapes Baroque Hispanic poetry and poetics along with more widely explored Neo-Stoic and Platonic influences. Second, Epicurean and Stoic models can illuminate approaches to the translation of early modern lyric into English today. Why mix these topics in limited space when each deserves full development? My brief answer: Epicureanism engages imagery that resonates with the intricacies of Baroque poetry, although in seldom acknowledged ways, and this philosophy can usefully inform a practice in translating that poetry. Indeed, the charged current between Stoic and Epicurean influences in the Baroque energizes my own approach to translating these works.

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Spanish Golden Age Poetry in Motion
The Dynamics of Creation and Conversation
, pp. 243 - 266
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2014

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