Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 14

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
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For Bovshover maintains close contact with the original, metic-
ulously and ingeniously following the imagery, without forfeiting
the pliability of his own language. The pentameter is retained
throughout the verse passages — a feat which redounds greatly
to the translator’s credit. The dialogues are so forceful, so sparked
with animation, that one can almost hear the characters breathing.
Possessing an agile wit indispensable in a Shakespeare transla-
tion, Bovshover skillfully transposes the puns and word-play. His
prose passages prove, in this play as well as in the Halkin and
Goldberg translations discussed later on, that Yiddish lends itself
admirably to communicating Elizabethan lustiness and humor.
Yet Bovshover never crosses the boundary to over-simplification.
The archaic expressions have, on the whole, with very few
lapses, been translated into correct modern Yiddish. In a few
instances, certain minor idioms with which Bovshover could not
cope have been omitted, with no loss to the over-all action.
Bovshover’s Yiddish translation of
Shylock
fulfils the chief aims
of a translation in that it illuminates for the Yiddish reader the
general world in which Shakespeare lived and the private domain
of his genius.
The bulk of Shakespeare translations into Yiddish appeared in
the United States and in the Soviet Union. S. Halkin and J.
Goldberg produced their works in the 1930’s, during a highly
fruitful era of Jewish cultural activity in Russia. This activity
embraced all the arts in the final decade before its tragic decline.
Halkin’s translation of
King Lear
was performed by the Moscow
Yiddish State Theatre, and was dedicated to Solomon Michoels,
who played the title role. The book is handsomely published and
contains illustrations of scenes taken from the production.
The translation was written to order for production. There is a
rearranging and loosening of lines, and explanation rather than
direct imagery. This bold treatment is for the purpose of fluidity
of action and dramatic clarity which modern staging demands.
But the deletion of passages and the omission of adjectives and
phrases sacrifice poetic imagery and impoverish the content,
particularly when the play is read and not seen on the stage.
Halkin’s boldness becomes sheer temerity when he adds his own
pictures to the original text.
In the blank verse passages there is frequent and disconcerting
inversion of subject and predicate, and general misplacement of
phrases, causing a twisted and awkward sentence structure. Since
this defect is not found in the prose portions, we assume it was
employed to maintain the pentameter verse form which is assid-
uously adhered to throughout the play. One cannot, however,
help but feel that with a little more effort Halkin, an authentic