13 abr. 2006

I believe the 20th century European poets most often translated into English are Lorca and Rilke. My criterion is number of separate editions in English. (We'll count Rilke's prose and Lorca's drama too.) Rilke probably has a few more in print right now.

Who do you think number 3 might be? I really don't know if there is a close 3rd. Celan? Machado?

UPDATE: here are some highly unscientific numbers from Amazon.

Rilke 743
Lorca 686
Machado 450
Jimenez 268
Pessoa 262
Celan 254
Breton 222
Bonnefoy !? 133
Apollinaire 121
Char 97
Aleixandre 91
Milosz 83
Mayakovsky 37
Cavafy 29
Akhmatova 18

These are just raw search numbers. I haven't gone through to eliminate works that aren't translations (monolingual editions in the original language or critical studies) or are duplicate editions. I searched under complete names to eliminate some noise from the sample. So far I am coming up with Machado as number 3. Let me know if you can think of a poet more translated than him. Remember: they most be European and Twentieth Century. If you know of more efficient ways of getting a measure of this, I would be very appreciative. Is there a woman poet from Europe translated more than Akhmatova? That would be good to know too. The list is very androcentric so far. I've also noticed translation of Lorca is pretty much a male-dominated field. I've only found two or three women who've done any Lorca translation at all.

European figures not of the 20th century:

Goethe 764
Homer 641
Baudelaire 488
Dante 448
Rimbaud 270


Neruda 528
Tu Fu 131
Vallejo 126
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz 100
Basho 63
Li Po 18

Conclusion: translation magnifies the canon, magnifies canonicity itself. There are poets not translated at all, poets translated a tiny bit, and a very few poets translated over and over again. Any group underrepresented in the canon will be vastly more underrepresented in the "translation canon."

14 comentarios:

Mike H dijo...


Jonathan dijo...

I'd kind of doubt it. Aside from not being European, and not existing, and being spelled wrong, there haven't been all that many editions of "Yasasuda."

David Leftwich dijo...
Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.
Jonathan dijo...

I'm confining it to 20th century poets, since obviously there have been numerous translations of Dante, Homer, Virgil, Goethe, Baudelaire, etc... European poets of other centuries.

jerrold dijo...

there's quite a few editions of Apollinaire's works...Pessoa, perhaps...

though I think Breton has more than both (if you count the prose)...

Jordan dijo...

I typed a long comment with many of those names yesterday but blogger ate it. My experience of used bookstores leads me to nominate: Pasternak, Montale, Z. Herbert, Yevtushenko, Hikmet, Ritsos, Popa, Salamun, Zagajevski (sp?), Szymborska probably only has four, hmm.. More later.

Jonathan dijo...

I'm getting 59 for Montale. Respectable, certainly. Nothing like a Nobel Prize to make people translate you.

Dan dijo...

If you guys are affiliated with a university, you can use your library's subscription to the WorldCat database to get a far more accurate indication of the number of translations.

Jonathan dijo...

That would be too easy. I prefer to do things the hard way.

Larry Sawyer dijo...

It's inconceivable to me that Bonnefoy would be ranked above Akhmatova! (or Apollinaire for that matter!)

Jordan dijo...


Jonathan dijo...

What are you calling me?!

Prevert has 70 Amazon points.

Herb Levy dijo...

All y'all know that these Amazon lists include books about and/or with chapters about the poets too, not just books by them, right?

Jonathan dijo...

True enough. I don't believe the numbers themselves have any validity, but the relative position of the authors more or less reflects the degree to which a poet has been widely translated/re-edited, etc...