Translating Shakespeare for the Hungarian Stage: Contemporary Perspectives

Bálint Szele

Abstract


This paper presents trends in today’s Shakespeare translation in Hungary based on interviews with Hungarian translators and scholars. Instead of a collection of names and dates of translators and translations, it focuses on the organic development of Hungarian Shakespeare translation, which has been going on for more than two hundred years, and tries to fit new developments into the tradition of translating Shakespeare in a theoretical framework. “Hungarian Shakespeare,” now seen as a broad collection of Hungarian translations and adaptations, lives on, is kept alive in theaters, but it is undergoing a process of simplification. It was very hard work to do away with the forced prudishness and mannerism of the nineteenth century Shakespeare translations. After World War II, during the dominance of Communist culture, it was not allowed for several translations of Shakespeare to co-exist, so a politically appointed committee was set up to decide which one fit into the official canon. Only the selected texts could be printed and used in performances. After the political changes in Hungary in 1989, there was an upsurge of interest in Shakespeare, and since the 1990s there has been an unprecedented plurality of Shakespeare translations. I aim to examine the processes that led to the development of today’s easy-to-understand and naturalistic translations, and to the abandonment of century-old classical ones.

Keywords


Shakespeare-translation; present-day Hungarian Shakespeare; Shakespeare in theater; text history and analysis

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/ahea.2013.121

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