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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 As Jiménez constantly revised his own work, hitherto unpublished annotations prove important to understanding this journey.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 Four Grappling with Anglo-Irish: Synge’s Riders to the Sea


Chapter Four

Grappling with Anglo-Irish

Synge’s Riders to the Sea

Zenobia and Juan Ramón Jiménez founded their own publishing company, called “El Jirasol y la Espada,” and its first publication was a translation of John Millington Synge’s short play Riders to the Sea in 1920: Jinetes hacia el mar. The name of the company came from Synge. Among the personal annotated books and papers willed by Juan Ramón to the University of Puerto Rico is a copy of the play in English published in Boston by John W. Luce, 1911, with Juan Ramón’s characteristic lines and x’s in the margin, which deserves study in detail.

The most specific published information is within an article by Fernando Ibarra, “Juan Ramón Jiménez e Irlanda,” Romance Notes 17.3 (Spring 1977): 241–46. From interviews published by Juan Guerrero Ruiz in his book Juan Ramón de viva voz (Madrid: Ínsula, 1961, 38), we know that Jiménez planned to translate Synge as early as September 15, 1915, and in fact obtained exclusive rights to do so. However, this did not happen until his marriage to the totally bilingual Zenobia on March 16, 1916. Prior to meeting her, he had concentrated on translation of French. Zenobia truly deserved the joint byline when the Spanish translation was published in 1920, as closer examination of the←33 | 34→ evidence will prove. Shortly thereafter, in spring 1921, the first performance of the play...

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