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Studies in the Translations of Juan Ramón and Zenobia Jiménez


Charlotte Ward

The translations by Juan Ramón Jiménez, first resident of the Caribbean to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, have been neglected, likely because many of them were published under the name of his wife, Zenobia Camprubí Aymar, along with many of his poems. Close analysis of the style, along with personal letters and diaries, reveals his significant participation in these works. The translations were a crucial source of psychological and financial support during the long exile from Spain after the Civil War. Other elements in the process were the Nobel-winners Rabindranath Tagore, William Butler Yeats, and André Gide. Intertextual incorporations from Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Rubén Darío, and Ezra Pound are noteworthy, as Juan Ramón and Zenobia maneuvered between the Symbolist and Imagist poetic movements, experimenting with different theories of translation, from Dryden to Jakobson. As Jiménez constantly revised his own work, hitherto unpublished annotations prove important to understanding this journey.
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Chapter One Juan Ramón before Zenobia: Translation and Imitation of French Symbolist Literature


Chapter One

Juan Ramón before Zenobia

Translation and Imitation of French Symbolist Literature

The first known translation by Juan Ramón Jiménez was done as a school boy aged twelve at San Luis Gonzaga, El Puerto de Santa María in 1893. The anthology Morceaux choisis de littérature française (Paris: Castellon, 1840) was required reading. The rhymes of the French Romantic poet Charles Hubert Milleroy’s “La Chute des feuilles” were not copied, but the original octosyllabic line was nearly maintained. There was a slight change of image from “Le bocage était sans mystère” to “La senda no era misteriosa” (Música 476–77). “Copse” rendered “path” was a translation of setting that would herald techniques to come. Instead of studying law as expected, Jiménez chose painting in Seville from 1896 to 1899.

After his father’s sudden death, Juan Ramón recovered from a nervous collapse at La Maison de Santé de Castel d’Andorte, Le Boucat, near Bordeaux. The director, Dr. Jean-Gaston Lalanne, had a good French library for his use. In 1902 Juan Ramón transferred to El Sanatorio del Rosario, Madrid, directed by Dr. Luis Simarro. Upon the death of Simarro’s wife, Juan Ramón was invited to move in with the doctor (Blasco 129). With the encouragement of Rubén Darío, he had already←1 | 2→ begun to publish his own poetry, such as Almas de violeta (Moderna, 1900) and Ninfeas.

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