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The Translator's Ideology in the Poetic Text. Homoeroticism in Shakespeare's Sonnets



This paper tries to contribute to the research made in the field of poetry translation regarding ideology by studying a very controversial and immensely translated work, Shakespeare's Sonnets. It has been broadly accepted by the critics that the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young man, but it is not that clear the nature of the relationship between the speaker of the poem and the addressee or the correspondence between the speaker and Shakespeare himself, despite all the theories. From a corpus consisting of thirty-one Spanish translations of Shakespeare's Sonnets and the prologues written by the translators themselves, we analyse how ideological boundaries can influence the translators' decisions. Their values and beliefs are, sometimes, quite evident. Such is the case of Fernando Maristany (1918) or Tomás Gray (2002), who have clearly changed the gender of the addressee. There seems to be, on their part, a determination to move Shakespeare's image away from this young man at the slightest sign of homosexuality.
Accepted manuscript
(2020) "The translator’s ideology in the poetic text. Homoeroticism in
Shakespeare’s Sonnets" in Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Barbara (ed.),
Cultural Conceptualizations in Translation and Language Applications.
Cham: Springer, 137-150. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-43336-9_8
Tanya Escudero
University of Vigo, Vigo, Spain
The Translator’s Ideology in the Poetic Text. Homoeroticism in Shakespeare’s Sonnets
This paper tries to contribute to the research made in the field of poetry translation regarding ideology by
studying a very controversial and immensely translated work, Shakespeare’s Sonnets. It has been broadly
accepted by the critics that the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young man, but it is not that clear the
nature of the relationship between the speaker of the poem and the addressee or the correspondence
between the speaker and Shakespeare himself, despite all the theories. From a corpus consisting of thirty-one
Spanish translations of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the prologues written by the translators themselves, we
analyse how ideological boundaries can influence the translators’ decisions. Their values and beliefs are,
sometimes, quite evident. Such is the case of Fernando Maristany (1918) or Tomás Gray (2002), who have
clearly changed the gender of the addressee. There seems to be, on their part, a determination to move
Shakespeare’s image away from this young man at the slightest sign of homosexuality’.
Keywords: rewriting, manipulation, constraints, poetry translation, homosexuality, Shakespeare
1. Introduction
When in 1985, the seminal book The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary
Translation was published, the idea of translators as manipulators spread quite rapidly. In the
introduction of this work, Theo Hermans remarks that “from the point of view of the target
literature, all translation implies a degree of manipulation of the source text for a certain purpose”
(1985, p. 11). However, this idea of manipulation does not have a negative or restricted sense for
the scholars who made a contribution in this project but a broad one.
The first time a translator approaches a text, he does it as a reader; hence, it is only
reasonable that the first stage of every translation is the interpretation of the source text. As
Bassnett claims, “the interlingual translation is bound to reflect the translator’s own creative
interpretation of the SL text” (Bassnett, 2014, p. 92). This interpretation and its subsequent impact
on the translated text have been accepted broadly in the field of Translation Studies since the
publication of the book cited above, although this notion of manipulation has been understood in
very different ways; some lean more towards ‘control’ and others more towards ‘interpretation’.
Probably, the most notable advocate of literary translation as rewriting has been André
Lefevere through his book Translation, Rewriting, and the Manipulation of the Literary Fame (1992).
In this work, where he explains the different factors that, according to him, influence translators
when rewriting a literary text, ideology is clearly the most important (followed by the dominant
poetics). He then defined ideology as “‘the conceptual grid that consists of opinions and attitudes
deemed acceptable in a certain society at a certain time and through which readers and translators
approach texts(Lefevere, 1998, p. 48). As other authors have noticed, the problem with discussing
translation and ideology is that it gives rise to questions such as, “when is something ‘ideology’
rather than just ‘culture’, and what is the difference between the two?” (Fawcett & Munday, 2011,
p. 137). Lefevere’s definition seems to fit the term ‘culture’ better since certain ideologies do not
have to be necessarily accepted by society. Some attitudes which are motivated by the thoughts
and beliefs shared by a particular group are not deemed acceptable by most members of society,
but that does not make these attitudes less ideological. Lefevere’s conception of ideology,
therefore, would be in accordance with what Paul Simpson considers the ‘dominant’ ideology, the
one that belongs to a “particular powerful social group” (Simpson, 1993, p. 5)
Other scholars have addressed this relationship between translation and ideology. In their
works, ideology has had in many cases “a generally negative connotation of distortion, manipulation
or concealment” (Munday, 2007, p. 196). This point of view can be found in other fields beyond
Translation Studies, as ideology has been mostly studied in relation to certain clearly positioned
aspects, such as politics or religion. Therefore, as van Dijk regrets, it has been “taken as a system of
wrong, false, distorted or otherwise misguided beliefs, typically associated with our social or political
opponents” (van Dijk, 1998, p. 2).
Here, we will study the ideological boundaries in poetic translations from a broader
perspective, understanding ideology as the system which “derives from the taken-for-granted
assumptions, beliefs and value systems which are shared collectively by social groups” (Simpson,
1993, p. 5). We also consider that the manifestations of ideology in discourse are not always
deliberate, but they respond largely to the interpretations that their authors ─or, in this case,
translators─ consider to be the most logical.
Since Lefevere’s work, there has been a significant number of studies related to ideology
and translated literature, especially in fields such as postcolonial studies, minority/minoritized
languages or censorship. In poetry translation, however, ideology has not received so much
attention, although some decisive research has been done (see, among others, Boase-Beier, 2004,
2015; Jones, 2010, 2016; Jones & Arsenijević, 2005).
Despite the fact that studies regarding ideology have frequently departed from another kind
of translated texts, we consider that poetic translations are a very good source of ideological
decisions for one main reason: poetry translators tend to have more freedom than translators
working in other fields since, in most cases, poetic translation is not their first source of income. This
means that external forces, such as patronage (which can take the form of editors, clients and so
forth), play a less important role than they do in neighbouring activities.
Probably because of that, poetic translations are often preceded by long prologues in which
translators explain why they have made one decision rather than another. Hence, studying not only
the target texts but also these paratextual elements can help us to understand how translators’
ideological boundaries influence their decisions when addressing the translation of a poem. Despite
our intention to consider ideology in a broad sense, these ideological boundaries, of course, are
easier to observe when there is a controversial debate taking place. Because of this, we have chosen
for our study a work that has caused a heated debate in its literary tradition due to its homoerotic
connotations, i.e., Shakespeare’s Sonnets. This aspect, without doubt, has not only created
controversy in the Anglo-Saxon literature but also in the many others which it has entered through
translation. Spanish is a good example of this, as Shakespeare’s Sonnets have been translated so
many times that the multitude of versions available allows for a wide range of possibilities.
Scholars who have studied this work throughout the years have seen this collection not just
as separate poems but as sequences with underlying narratives, something that was common for
sonneteers in that period. As Crosland states, “the sequence was a fashion amongst them [the
sonneteers down to Shakespeare], and, perhaps, a law” (1926, p. 79). Therefore, these poems have
traditionally been divided according to the same criterion: the person for whom the sonnets were
written. As a result, most essays and prologues talk about two sequences: The Fair Youth Sonnets
(1-126) and the Dark Lady Sonnets (127-154) (Lever, 1966; Vendler, 1999, pp. 1415). There have
been other divisions and subdivisions which take into account the storyline that some of these
poems seem to develop, nevertheless, there is a wide agreement that the first 126 sonnets are
dedicated to a man. However, the gender in this first sequence is only evident in twenty of the
poems in which we can find pronouns or nouns or references which are clearly masculine (Lord”,
“his”, “him”, “husbandry”, “youth”, “boy” and so forth): sonnets 1, 3, 7, 9, 13, 16, 19, 20, 26, 33, 39,
41, 42, 54, 63, 67, 68, 101, 108 and 126 (Vendler, 1999; Holland, 2012).
Much has been written about the homoeroticism of the first sequence. Some scholars
consider these poems to be autobiographical to some extent (Hadow, 1907, pp. IX–XI); some think
they are fiction (Lever, 1966, p. 163); some see in the young man a lover (Whittemore, 2005); while
some see just a friend (Ma, 2014, p. 941), and so on. Prologues written by editors usually favour one
or several of these views. Nevertheless, the readers of the original poems do not need to believe
what the prologuist believes; in fact, they do not need to read the prologue at all. English-speaker
readers can access the original text or a modern version, in which just some linguistic aspects have
been updated in order to make it more accessible for contemporary readers, and draw their own
conclusions (if there is any to draw). Things are slightly different, however, for those who read the
sonnets translated into Spanish.
Since the first translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets into Spanish in 1877 by Matías de
Velasco y Rojas, who translated 38 of the author’s poems, there have been numerous partial
translations of this work and more than 30 complete translations edited in Spain and Latin America.
This is a really high number of translations for a poetry book, especially if we consider that most of
them have been edited over the last half century. The resulting poems are as diverse as might be
expected given the diversity of their translators.
We have stated that for most scholars, it is evident that the interpretation of a text can be
influenced highly by the reader’s ideology, especially regards to an issue such as homoeroticism or
homosexuality, which has caused so much controversy throughout history. Therefore, the ways in
which different translators have addressed this ‘issue’ could be the results of their own ideology and
values, whether they be dominant in their respective societies or not.
The aim of this study is to trace, in some of those translations (and also in the prologues),
hints that can lead us to the values and beliefs of their producers, in order to observe the impact
their ideology has had on their decisions. Moreover, we will also consider how these values and
beliefs are linked to the social context which surrounds the translators.
2. Corpus and methodology
In order to achieve these purposes, we will consider the prologues and translated poems
edited in different countries and times. Due to the large number of translations of Shakespeare’s
Sonnets published in Spain in recent years, our study includes a significant number of Spaniard
translations from the last century. After a first review of the translations (complete and partial
which incorporated more than 10 sonnets) published until 2016, we have chosen those whose
prologues included a clear allusion to this polemic matter and those in which ideological decisions
are more evident. This latter list includes mainly those translations which visibly changed the gender
of the addressee when it was not ambiguous in the source text. This way, our corpus will consist of
31 books from 1877 to 2016 edited in Spain, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Cuba (conveniently
listed in the section “Primary Sources”)
We will look mainly at sonnets 26 (“Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage” and “Then may
I dare to boast how I do love thee”), 30 (“But if the while I think on thee, dear friend”) and 33 (“But
out alack, he was but one hour mine”), but since there are many partial translations (which include
just some of the sonnets), we will mention other cases to show how different translators have
addressed the issue.
We must admit that, even though poetry translators tend to show a higher degree of
freedom in the choices they make, it might be hard to know the true reasons for some lexical choices
due to the metrical constraints they impose on themselves (fixed stress pattern, syllabic count,
rhyme). For example, Spanish words tend to have a higher number of syllables than English words,
so translators who have decided to transfer Shakespeare’s sonnets into Spanish hendecasyllables
(which is considered the verse most similar to English pentameter) need to economise on the
syllable count. However, not all translators have chosen such a rigid metrical pattern.
This is not the only asymmetry between English and Spanish that we will take into account.
As Spanish adjectives are inflected based on gender, preserving the ambiguity in some verses
becomes a complicated task. Often, translators must choose between conceding a certain quality
to a male or female recipient, unmasking deliberately or not part of their own ideology.
Nevertheless, as we stated above, the presence of the fair young man in the first 126 sonnets is
accepted widely by scholars not so their homoerotic nature. Consequently, certain decisions can
be due simply to an accepted agreement within the literary community.
This aspect might be, however, the only one on which scholars agree. As some of the
translators indicate in their prologues, with regards to Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Williams
Wordsworth’s words “with this key Shakespeare unlocked his heart”1 (1931, p. 187) have given rise
to a large number of interpretations and a fervent search for autobiographical hints hidden in this
famous work. And this mystery has fascinated translators as much as academics, as we will see.
3. Results
Regarding the nature of the relationship we alluded to in our previous point, most of the
translators just prefer to leave the readers to draw their own conclusions and indicate this
preference in their prologues while stating that it is not their job to discuss the autobiographical
nature of the poems or the lack thereof. This viewpoint can be seen clearly in the prologues of Luis
Rutiaga (2002), Ignacio Gamen (2009) and Law Palacín (2009).
Some of them, such as Gallardo Ruiz (2012), present the possible addressees for the first
126 sonnets according to the critics but do not take a stance about the mysterious man. Others,
such as Marcelo Pellegrini, just formulate an open question: “Who is that man to which most of the
sonnets are addressed?” or “Was the poet’s passion one of a homosexual nature, or was it just a
literary mask?2 (Pellegrini, 2006, p. 9, all translations are our own).
Jorge Capriata (1999), in his long and well-documented prologue, lists up to four theories
proposed by four different scholars of Shakespeare’s work: an author-patron relationship (Jardine,
1996), a repressed homoeroticism (Kerrigan, 1986), a clear homoeroticism that reveals a “bisexual
soul” (Pequigney, 1986) and an open theory, which states that any of the possibilities could be true,
but it is impossible to know which one is correct (Booth, 1977).
Carmen Pérez Romero, in her translation, which includes a thorough philological
commentary, states that the first character of these sonnets is the lyrical voice, but this need not
necessarily be Shakespeare’s voice, although some details may point to his biography. She calls this
voice “the speaker poet”3 (Pérez Romero, 2006, p. 4).
Several of these rewriters seem to repress the desire to choose a side by stating an opinion
without dismissing other possibilities. Such is the case of Laurencio Tacoronte, who declares:
“Shakespeare seems to reveal his innermost feelings and his deepest passions”, but then he adds
“or at least, he pretends to do it, as it could easily be mere literary fiction”4 (Tacoronte, 2005, p. 10).
Following the same line, Miguel Ángel Montezanti remarks that the relationship between the poet
and the young man is almost always disturbed and restless and that it does not fit our notion of
friendship; although, according to him, assumptions concerning homosexuality cannot explain the
very different tones that can be found in the sonnets”5 (Montezanti, 2003, p. 17). Salvador Insa’s
viewpoint is more surprising since he talks about the “poetic-self” that is the protagonist of these
poems, and, in the same sentence, he asserts that the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young
English man “with whom Shakespeare was in love6 (Insa, 2016, p. 9, our emphasis).
However, some translators do choose a side quite clearly. For Luis Astrana Marín, the first
translator of the whole book into Spanish, the Sonnets are, without a doubt, “an echo of the poet’s
heart” and, although Shakespeare’s attitude towards his friend is sometimes “disturbing” and
produces a feeling of “discomfort”, it is obvious that for him, it is no more than a friendship7 (1951,
p. 66). José Méndez Herrera (1976) devotes 25 pages of his prologue to presenting all of the
identities which have been attributed to the Dark Lady and the fair young man and explaining
possible theories, then ends up saying just that the language used by the author in this sequence
could be easily typical of an author-patron relationship and that these sonnets prove that
Shakespeare was heterosexual. For him, expressions like “love” are just an example of the poet’s
Platonism8. Pedro Vives Heredia (1985) proposes something similar and defends the idea that the
relationship between the two men is platonic and pure. For Bros, these autobiographic sonnets
clearly show a friendship, although the flattery is sometimes so exaggerated that they even breed
“assumptions of sexual abnormality” in some critics, assumptions that are later rejected by
researchers9 (Bros, 1987, p. 2).
Despite the various interpretations, in all the translations cited above, the addressee of
these first 126 sonnets is always a male, all of them falling into the cases in which the gender is clear
in the Spanish version. Most translators (as do most scholars) just assume that these poems are
dedicated to a young man, and this fact can be seen in their translations. We have already explained
that maintaining gender ambiguity is not as easy in Spanish as it is in English due to the gender
inflexion typical of the Spanish language, hence, in these translations, the young man is even more
present than in the original poems. Bernardo Santano Moreno regrets that his colleagues have not
given this ambiguity the same importance that can be found in Shakespeare’s sonnets10 (Santano
Moreno, 2013, p. 8).
Nonetheless, there are some divergences in the lexical choices made by these translators
when transferring into Spanish certain expressions from the source text. In sonnet 26, the
expression “Lord of my love” does not differ much in most translations, which keep the two concepts
‘lord’ and ‘love’ (‘señor’ and ‘amor’ in Spanish) but vary the construction: “señor de mi amor”
(Capriata, 1999; Gamen, 2009; Rutiaga, 2002; Santano Moreno, 2013), “señor del mío amor” (Insa,
2016) or “señor del amor mío” (Falaquera, 2007; Méndez Herrera, 1976; Ospina, 2016). On the other
hand, Astrana Marín (1951) chooses “señor de mi corazón (‘lord of my heart’), while Ehrenhaus
(2014) opts for “señor de mi pasión” (‘lord of my passion’). Therefore, almost all of them have
decided to maintain an affectionate sense that can be interpreted as a romantic exclamation (or
The 13th line of this same sonnet says “then may I dare to boast how I do love thee”. The
most frequent terms for translating “love”, as a verb, into Spanish would most likely be querer and
amar. When used in the context of a relationship, the former expression can be used when
addressing a parent, a friend or a lover; the latter, amar, however, has for most speakers a different
connotation, it is used commonly in romantic relationships. If we attend to the broadness of this
concept, if we want to project incertitude, then “querer” would probably be a more suitable option
for “love”, as García Calvo (1974) or Ehrenhaus (2014) have decided. Despite this, most translators
prefer the verb amar. There could be a simple explanation for this: while this word has a more
restricted sense, it can be more useful for some of the translators, metrically speaking. Since its first
letter is a vowel, it allows for a synalepha that is not possible with other words applicable to the
same context. Gutiérrez Izquierdo (2016) chooses a more neutral option, “apreciar” (appreciate),
while Astrana Marín prefers to talk about “el amor que te profeso (‘the love I feel for you’).
Something of this same sort happens with sonnet 30, where “dear friend” (a considerably
neutral expression that can be understood in many different senses) has been translated mainly
quite literally as “querido amigo” (Arecha, 1997; Capriata, 1999; Falaquera, 2007), “amigo querido”
(Elvira Hernández, 1977; Pérez Prieto, 2008) or “caro amigo” (Santano Moreno, 2013; Sordo, 1982;
Tacoronte, 2005). Hence, some translators have chosen more explicit expressions, such as “amado
amigo” (‘loved friend’) (Álvarez, 1999; Insa, 2016), “dulce amigo” (‘sweet friend’) (Rodríguez López,
1997) or even “amado” (‘beloved’, ‘lover’) (Gamen, 2009). Whereas others have preferred to
neutralise the phrase, as in “amigo mío” (‘my friend’) (Tacoronte, 2005), “buen amigo” (‘good
friend’) (Montezanti, 2003) or just “amigo” (‘friend’) (García Calvo, 1974).
There are, however, some translations in which the choices made by the rewriters can be
quite shocking. Fernando Maristany (1918) translated 13 sonnets, all of them from the first
sequence (the fair youth sequence). In those where the male identity is clear in the source text, the
gender is unclear in his version; for instance, in sonnet 33, the pronoun ‘he’ in “he was but one hour
mine” disappears, and it is “el encanto(‘the charm) that lasts but an hour. In just one poem (sonnet
18), the translator opted to show gender inflexion, and he decided to make evident a female
addressee. Unfortunately, there are no allusions to this matter in the prologue. This book is an
anthology of foreign poems translated into Spanish, and the prologue comprises just a couple of
pages in which Maristany talks about foreign poetry and translation in a very vague way; he does
not go into further details about the sonnets or any particularities concerning his translation of
Rafael Pombo (who translated just seven sonnets, which are included in an anthology along
with other translated poems) addresses sonnets 27 and 95 to a woman, but sonnet 13 to a man.
The most outstanding feature of his translation is not the gender of the addressee, but the religious
tone present in some of the compositions, especially in sonnet 13, where God (who is not present
in the source text at all) becomes almost the main character of the poem. This tone, however, is not
so surprising, considering that Pombo once stated that “religion and true poetry are twins, and so
similar to each other that they may be the same thing”11 (in Robledo, 2014).
A striking case is the translation of Tomás Gray, which he calls an “interpretation”, not
because of the content of the poems in his version but because of the form. He states that, due to
the differences between the English and Spanish languages and the constraints a metrical pattern
implies, he prefers not to talk about “translations”. In fact, he remarks that he felt the need to be
accurate by not adding or subtracting elements containing meaning or aspects of moral judgement.
In his prologue, he defends the idea that the words used by Shakespeare could fit an author-patron
relationship easily and that “love” may mean “friendship” or “affection”12 (Gray, 2002, pp. 1112).
The striking part comes in when we read his translations or interpretations, in which he
systematically changes the gender of the addressee, even when there is no doubt about the male
gender in the original poems. Further, he retains the ambiguity or adds it in certain cases. The “Lord
of my love” from the sonnet 26 becomes “amor mío” (‘my love’), and, in his translation of sonnet
30, there is no trace of any “dear friend”, neither man nor woman. As for sonnet 33, in which the
addressee is clearly a man (He was but an hour mine), his identity is veiled in Gray’s version.
However, he does reveal the identity of the addressee when there are no romantic or erotic
connotations. In sonnet 3, in which the poet encourages the young man to procreate (For where is
she so fair whose unear’d womb/Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?), Gray writes “¿Existe una
bella que tal vez/se nigue a unise a ti en un casamiento?” (‘Is there a beautiful woman who may
refuse to marry you?’). In this manner, the sexual connotations created by the “unear’d womb” and
“tillage” as a metaphor for insemination are lost.
Finally, Eduardo Dieste, who translated 21 sonnets, retains the ambiguity in 15 of them,
while he clearly addresses a woman in sonnets 2, 3, 6, 13, 16, and 18. He has not translated any of
the sonnets in which Shakespeare was explicitly addressing a man, and the prologue cannot tell us
anything about his decision, since it was written by a colleague, Esther de Cáceres. The prologuist,
however, makes a few observations which show that, according to her, Dieste’s version is not only
beautiful but suitable and moral, despite all the research “that historical criticism has done trying to
erase the figure of the great poet [Shakespeare]”13 (in Dieste, 1944, p. 16).
4. Conclusion
We can see in our previous analysis that not only the choices these translators have made,
but also how they have explained in their prologues what the sonnets are for them may differ
greatly. We mentioned previously that before any translation task, the rewriter must interpret the
source text. This most likely happens in almost any kind of translation. However, in regards to
poetry, readers’ interpretations can change dramatically. As we know, the connotative meaning of
any poem is what really conforms it. A poem is, in this sense, like an iceberg, for which the tip
comprises just its denotative meaning. Translators, as readers, cannot dive deep, so they can only
guess from the surface what could be below. As Boase-Beier explains, “the translator of the poem,
like any reader, in an interesting parallel with the reader of the newspaper and the agents of the
crimes it records, both ‘knows’ (that is, can reasonably reconstruct and act on) the author’s intention
and does not know (with certainty)(2004, pp. 3233). Those who think that the first sequence of
Shakespeare’s Sonnets tells a love story (not necessarily real) will probably look for a vocabulary
that shows the affection and love between the two men (e.g., Gamen, 2009). Those who think that
it tells of a friendship and that the flattering vocabulary is typical of that kind of relationship in
Elizabethan times will spare no praises (e.g., Astrana Marín, 1951). And, of course, those who do not
want to link the figure of Shakespeare to a behaviour that may be considered immoral, disturbing
or abnormal will probably try to avoid creating the slightest doubt (e.g., Gray, 2002).
The reluctance on the part of some of the translators to assume a male addressee ‒ such as
Maristany (1918), Dieste (1944) or Gray (2002) is quite shocking. We may see, on their part, a
determination to move Shakespeare’s image away from this young man at a minimal sign of
homosexuality. However, we must admit that, especially in the oldest translations (which were
partial), we cannot be sure whether the translators knew all the sonnets and the possible theories
that surrounded the identity and history of the two main characters. They could not have known
anything about the ten sonnets in which the addressee is explicitly a man, as Pujante suggests (2009,
p. 18). Maybe they did not think that the first 126 poems really conformed to a sequence. Or perhaps
some of them deliberately chose for their translation the poems in which the gender of the
addressee was not clear.
Nonetheless, there are cases in which it is clear that there is a higher degree of manipulation
that may have a moral cause. Homosexuality and homoeroticism, as everyone knows, is still a very
controversial topic, although the perspective of the population in some countries is changing.
Homosexuality has been decriminalised in all Latin American countries and Spain, but this does not
mean that discrimination has been eradicated completely. Out of all of these Spanish-speaking
countries, marriage between two people of the same gender is only legal in Argentina, Uruguay,
Colombia, México and Spain. Further, in Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Chile, there is some
kind of legal union which provides same-sex couples with rights similar to those of married people
(Barrientos, 2016, p. 338). Costa Rica and Nicaragua do not consider private homosexual
relationships to be illegal, but they have laws condemning sodomy as a crime against public order.
Regarding the minimum age of sexual consent, “in Paraguay and Chile, the law distinguishes
between homosexual and heterosexual sexual activity”. In Chile, for example, “the age of consent
is 14 for heterosexual sex and 18 for homosexual sex” (UNICEF, 2017). Even in countries where the
rights of the homosexual and heterosexual populations are the same, there is some degree of
discrimination. We cannot forget that it was only in 1990 that homosexuality was removed from the
list of mental disorders by the World Health Organization (Cochran et al., 2014). And the world does
not change all that fast.
As we have seen, these translations cover a long period of time and a wide range of
countries. Such a range means that the translators have been immersed in very different social
contexts that may have influenced them. However, Gray and Maristany (to cite two of the
translators who more evidently manipulate the gender matter) belong to quite different cultures in
which homosexuality is considered very differently, but they have chosen to follow a similar path in
this matter (Maristany in a more covert way). On the other hand, Pellegrini’s translation came out
just four years later than Gray’s (both Chilean), and their approach to this issue differs a great deal.
This tells us that ideology, as defined by Lefevere as being dominant or accepted by society, does
not fit our purpose and that the concept needs to cover a larger area. How else could we explain
certain decisions made by translators which seem to be based on beliefs and values?
This study is just a first approximation of more in-depth research in which we will be able to
draw more conclusions about the poetry translator’s ideology and his or her decisions regarding the
target text. However, we cannot forget that the search for ideological boundaries through the
analysis of discourse is a very tricky task and that, in the same way that ideology may influence
interpretations made by writers and translators, researchers are also bounded by ideological
conditions, whether we wish for this to be so or not. We have tried to overcome this obstacle; we
hope we have achieved it.
1 The first quatrain of Wordsworth sonnet says:
Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch’s wound (Wordsworth, 1931, p. 187)
2 “¿Quién es ese hombre al que están dirigidos la mayoría de los poemas? […] ¿era la pasión del
poeta de carácter homosexual, o era una máscara literaria?” (Pellegrini, 2006, p. 10).
3 “El primero sería la voz lírica del poeta enamorado (al que no hay que identificar necesariamente
con Shakespeare aunque algunos datos apunten supuestamente a su biografía) y al que esta
investigadora considera como "the speaker poet"”(Pérez Romero, 2006, p. 4).
4 “Shakespeare parece desvelarnos sus sentimientos más íntimos y sus pasiones más profundas,
como si el verso constituyera para él un medio privilegiado de expresión de las emociones y del
mundo interior (o al menos finge hacerlo, pues muy bien podría tratarse de mera ficción literaria,
muy del gusto de la época)” (Tacoronte, 2005, p. 10)
5 “En tanto relación, la que mantiene con el joven es casi siempre perturbada e inquieta, y resiste
nuestra denominación corriente, amistad, como no sea que este concepto sea rodeado de un
grupo de adjetivos que en lugar de despejar la cuestión más bien consiguen confundirla y
ensombrecerla. Pero tampoco las suposiciones en torno a homosexualidad alcanzan a agotar la
variada tonalidad de los sonetos.” (Montezanti, 2003, p. 17)
6 “El interior de la obra es un poco más revelador en lo que a los sentimientos del protagonista (el
yo poético) se refiere: […] los primeros ciento veintiséis sonetos van dirigidos a un joven inglés del
que (aquí sí que parecen estar todos de acuerdo) Shakespeare estaba enamorado” (Insa, 2016, p.
7 “Indudablemente, los Sonetos son un eco del corazón del poeta. […] Cierto que, de atenerse a la
letra de muchos, la actitud de Shakespeare para con su amigo es un poco turbadora y produce una
impresión de malestar” (Astrana Marín, 1951, p. 66).
8 “Por lo que al joven Southhampton respecta, el señalado “platonismo” del poeta, que no otra
cosa, está impregnado de una mayor serenidad que la que han querido ver tantos innúmeras
veces” (Méndez Herrera, 1976, p. 34).
9 “Cuando leemos los exagerados elogios de Shakespeare a su protector, en los que tan a menudo
se invocan las propias cualidades físicas, hasta el punto de suscitar suposiciones de anormalidad
sexual en algún que otro crítico, aunque abundante y decisivamente rechazadas después por los
investigadores, las atribuimos, guiados por los comentaristas, al ambiente del tiempo y al estilo
expresivo de la época” (Bros, 1987, p. 2).
10 “A causa de la ausencia de marcas de género gramatical en la lengua de Shakespeare, en
muchos casos no es posible distinguir si el sujeto poético es hombre o mujer; además, no me cabe
ninguna duda de que el autor buscaba conscientemente tal indeterminación como un elemento
estilístico y estético más de sus composiciones. Este aspecto, a mi juicio, tiene mayor relevancia de
la que se le ha concedido” (Santano Moreno, 2013, p. 8).
11 “La religión y la verdadera poesía son gemelas, y tan parecidas una a otra que tal vez son una
misma cosa, dos fases de un mismo astro, dos revelaciones de una misma verdad” (Pombo in
Robledo, 2014, p. 3).
12 “No voy a ser capaz de aclarar y dispersar la bruma de incertidumbre o de descorrer el velo de
reserva que impregna a la mayoría de los sonetos. Ante la necesidad de ser preciso y, al serlo, de
no sumar ni restar elementos de significación valórica o de enjuiciamiento moral, opté en general
por respetar la opinión de muchos estudiosos de las obras de Shakespeare que sostienen que (en
especial los sonetos) reflejan un compromiso entre una expresión bella y redondeada y un
mensaje cálido y verosímil. […] la expresión «love» se solía usar tanto para significar «amor» como
«amistad», «afecto» o «deferencia». Incluso hoy la gente abusa de este término para referirse a
simples gustos o preferencias” (Gray, 2002, p. 12).
13 “Siento una emoción muy viva y profunda cada vez que evoco la presencia de Shakespeare a
través de sus tiempos, quebrantos y confianza, y a pesar de todas las investigaciones que la crítica
histórica ha hecho intentando borrarnos la figura del gran poeta, al denunciarnos las máscaras tras
de las cuales se escondería el verdadero autor de esta obra enorme” (de Cáceres in Dieste, 1944,
p. 16).
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Tanya Escudero obtained her BA in Translation and Interpreting and holds a master’s degree in
Translation for International Communication. She is a PhD student and a research fellow at the
University of Vigo, Spain, and works on poetry translation from an interdisciplinary perspective. She
has undertaken research stays at Queen’s University Belfast, Newcastle University and Tallinn
University. Her main interests include literature, translation and ideology, translation theory, and
sociology of translation.
Full-text available
If we consider paratexts as a place for finding traces of metatranslational discourse, those preceding poetry translations may be one of the best examples of this practise, as they tend to be more frequent and long that those introducing other genres. Examining a corpus of 54 translatorial prefaces to Shakespeare’s Sonnets into Spanish published between 1877 and 2018, we will see how, in order to account for decisions, translators often base their arguments on commonplaces or memes such as fidelity, equivalence or the superiority of the original. The significance of these ideas in the metatranslational discourse is such that it clearly shows their value beyond a mere explanation of the translation process. This papers interprets these recurrent ideas by resorting to the notion of ‘symbolic capital’ coined by Bourdieu (1984), and considers that they function as a mechanism to grant prestige and respectability to a given translation both for translators and readers.
Full-text available
This paper briefly examines some of the sociocultural and legal conditions either helping or hindering the life of gay men, lesbians, and transgender individuals in Latin America. Some comparative data available about the legal situation and discrimination towards these populations is presented. In conclusion, the scope and persistence of prejudice and discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals in the region is discussed.
Earlier studies have revealed how the ideological stances of teams publishing translations of Bosnian and Serbian poetry into English during and after the 1990s’ conflict are often reflected in translation projects’ ‘structural features’: which poems are selected, the host publication's or website's title, and paratextual comments. This study analyses the ideological implications of textual (semantic and stylistic) “shifts” between source and target in 143 poems from 43 Serbian-to-English poetry translation projects examined previously. It shows much less evidence of translator ideology at textual-shift than at structural level, probably because of the translator's professional ethic of source-poet loyalty.
This article investigates essential questions regarding ideology and language from a translation studies perspective. Adopting a broad-based approach, it examines what is meant by 'ideology' and how it is treated in translation studies, where it has primarily been linked to manipulation and power relations. However, this article focuses on the ideology of the individual translator. Following Simpson and Van Dijk, it considers ideology to be constructed from the knowledge, beliefs and value systems of the individual (in our case, the translator) and the society in which he or she operates. The main interest is in how ideology in its many facets is conveyed and presented textually in translation and how analysis drawn from within monolingual traditions (such as critical discourse analysis and the tools of systemic-functional analysis) may not always be the most appropriate to detect and classify the shifts that take place. Examples are analyzed of translations of speeches and other political writings and interviews with revolutionary leaders in Latin America (Castro, Marcos, Chávez).
The present paper probes into the concept of love revealed in the Dark Lady group in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. In these poems, the poet depicts a kind of obsession, bitter, hopeless and degenerating, which is totally different from that sweet and ennobling love Shakespeare always pursues in his early works. It is argued that the conflict between the ideal of love and the sensual obsession with the Dark Lady may well be a manifestation of the change in the poet’s mood, namely, from optimism to pessimism.