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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 As Jiménez constantly revised his own work, hitherto unpublished annotations prove important to understanding this journey.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 Eight The Outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and Exile


Chapter Eight

The Outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and Exile

In 1936 when the Spanish Civil War began, Juan Ramón and Zenobia moved to Cuba to complete the anthology Verso y prosa para niños previously contracted by the Puerto Rico Department of Education. Translations by Baudelaire, Yeats, Padraig Pearse, Pater, and AE (George William Russell) date from this time. The number of Irish poets is noteworthy, because Yeats’s edition of The Oxford Book of Modern Verse had been a Christmas present, and Jiménez’s library was in Spain. Like the translations from T. S. Eliot inspired by a gift from Jorge Guillén published in Gazeta Literaria 99 (1931), rhymed originals are presented in accurate, elegant prose. The primary purpose was probably Juan Ramón’s own learning experience. In 1939 the couple was invited to teach at the University of Miami and so moved from their hotel in Cuba to an apartment in Coral Gables, Florida. Short translations from Masefield, Lawrence, Turner, Pound (Canto VII), Whitman, Synge, Stephens and Poe date from this time. All are in prose of uncounted syllables except John Masefield’s “Trade Winds.” This is in fourteen-syllable alejandrinos, and there is no attempt to imitate the colloquialism of the line “And o’nights there’s fireflies and the yellow moon” (1.9). Again, the←77 | 78→ Oxford Book has influenced the choice of texts. A new activity was helping their host’s wife Helen Fogelquist publish a short story and poems in the Costa...

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