Philosophy and Practice in Translational Hermeneutics

2018

Philosophy and Practice in Translational Hermeneutics

Rainer Kohlmayer
Pages 367-398

Zu Geschichte, Theorie und Praxis der Bühnenübersetzung. Am Beispiel von Corneilles Komodie "Le Menteur"

After a brief summary of Herder’s enormous influence on literary translation in Germany (translation restores the specific orality of the original text) the essay points out five fundamental criteria that obtain when translating for the stage: Orality, Individual speech of dramatis personae, Relations between persons (as subtext), Necessity of immediate audience comprehensibility (as opposed to the readers’ situation), Theatricality / Fictionality with its typical „suspension of disbelief ” (Coleridge). These criteria are then applied to Pierre Corneille’s comedy Le menteur, written in Alexandrines, the characteristic verse form of French classicism. The original version of 1643 is compared to the verse translations by Goethe (1767), Bing (1875), Schiebelhuth (1954), Kohlmayer (2005), with a side glance at Ranjit Bolt’s English version of 1989. The ease with which young Goethe renders the classicist form of the original into colloquial German is contrasted by Schiebelhuth’s stilted ‚foreignizing’ of the text. The explanation offered is the (fatal) influence of Schleiermacher’s well-known translation theory of 1813, with its categorical preference of foreignizing, in contrast to domesticating (in Venuti’s terminology).