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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 As Jiménez constantly revised his own work, hitherto unpublished annotations prove important to understanding this journey.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 Five Tagore in Spanish: A Legacy of Three Nobel Laureates


Chapter Five

Tagore in Spanish

A Legacy of Three Nobel Laureates

Ofrenda lírica, first published in Madrid in 1918 by Ángel Alcoy, is a Spanish translation of the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913, the first person from the Indian subcontinent to do so. It was published under the name of Juan Ramón Jiménez’s wife Zenobia Camprubí de Jiménez, with a poem by Juan Ramón, who would win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956, while a professor at the University of Puerto Rico. Translating Tagore together would prove crucial to their material and personal existence during the long years of exile from Franco. Tagore had been translating himself into English on board ship in route to England, but the publication of Gitanjali in 1912 benefited greatly from the selection and correction by William Butler Yeats, the Anglo-Irish writer who would win the Nobel Prize in 1923. The Spanish title derives from the French translation by André Gide, Offrande lyrique, published in 1914 by La Nouvelle Revue Française. Gide would win the Nobel Prize in 1947.

The English Gitanjali is actually selected from some ten different volumes of Tagore’s lyrics in Bengali. The originals were in verse, such as the old payar line of fourteen syllables (Lago, RT 42). This meter←43 | 44→ had formerly been considered appropriate for folk ballads and nursery rhymes, rather than serious literature (Rogers...

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