METM09 presentation     Thread: Promising practices

Englishing Jacint Verdaguer: the effect of prosodic reconfiguration on the form-content synthesis

Ronald Puppo — Spain

This paper examines prosodic issues arising in the translation into English of selected poems by the major literary figure of the nineteenth-century Catalan Renaixença, Jacint Verdaguer. Some poems in translation will be examined to show how prosodic elements are reshuffled and reconfigured into a new semantic, syntactic, rhetorical and rhythmic textual whole, altering both intratextual relationships within the poem and intertextual correspondences in the translating literary system. These maneuvers on behalf of a small-language import are the result of the translator's attempt to -œcommunicate to [English] readers the understanding of the foreign text that foreign [Catalan] readers have,- even though -œthis communication will always be partial- (translation theorist Lawrence Venuti). Moreover, to the extent that the translator has effectively re-created the form-content synthesis through prosodic reconfiguration, the translated text gives birth to new meanings and correspondences in the English-language literary system. The text in translation is not the same poem, though it is not an entirely different one. George Steiner has described translation as -œan exact art,- which when most effective -œbestows on the original that which was already there.- Thus the translator must take care that the value of the imported product be preserved at an optimal rate of exchange in its new cultural and literary currency.


Ronald Puppo is now head of the Foreign Languages Department of the translation school at the University of Vic, where he has taught since 1994. After ranging far and wide to complete his own university studies in French literature and later philosophy — in California, Grenoble and Barcelona — he found his vocation in translation. Dr. Puppo’s translations of both Spanish and Catalan poets include works by Saint John of the Cross, Joan Salvat-Papasseit, Josep Carner and Jacint Verdaguer. His Selected Poems of Jacint Verdaguer: A Bilingual Edition was published by University of Chicago Press in 2007.