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Poetry & Responsibility$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380352

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380352.001.0001

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A Politics of Translation

A Politics of Translation

Some Modern Hamlets

(p.40) Chapter 3 A Politics of Translation
Poetry & Responsibility

Neil Corcoran

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the way Hamlet – both the play and the character – is taken up and transformed in politically as well as poetically significant ways by five modern poets: the Russian Boris Pasternak, together with a translation by the American Robert Lowell; the Polish Zbigniew Herbert in an English version by his fellow Polish poet Czeslaw Miłosz; and the Northern Irish Ciaran Carson. The chapter examines the impact on poets of a coercive politics, and the subversive literary means they use in the face of such oppression. The figure of Hamlet as he is remarkably re-visioned is given close attention; and matters of translation, and the controversies of translation theory, are taken up and analysed. The impact of the Cold War on poetry is prominent in the chapter, as is the reception of two key foreign-language poems into British, Irish and American culture: Pasternak's ‘Hamlet’ and Herbert's ‘Elegy of Fortinbras'. The historical circumstances of publication and reception are explored; and the impact of the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy is addressed.

Keywords:   Hamlet, Translation, Pasternak, Herbert, Carson

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