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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 As Jiménez constantly revised his own work, hitherto unpublished annotations prove important to understanding this journey.
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The rich holdings of the Sala Zenobia y Juan Ramón Jiménez at the University of Puerto Rico Lázaro Library have inspired me to take on this research. While all the professional librarians deserve praise, the most helpful for this particular book were Silvia Solá, Nancy Abreu, Lily Busquets, Josefina Maldonado, and Aura Díaz. Manuel Martínez is the most efficient director of interlibrary loans I have met. Professor Joel Donato, director of the faculty computer facility LabCAD, has shown infinite patience and expertise.

Within the College of Humanities, history professor Barbara Southard, specialist in Asia and married to a Bengali-speaker, gave presentations on Tagore to my translation classes and answered my own questions. English professor Nalini Natarajan, with an impressive publication record on Indian literature and cultural theory, has been generous with information over the course of some years.

Susan Bassnett invited me to deliver a paper at the Translation and Culture Seminar of the University of Warwick on the subject “Synge’s Riders to the Sea Translated by Juan Ramón and Zenobia Jiménez” in May 1996. I had earlier discussed performance of the play in Dublin←ix | x→ with Mícheál Ó Siadhail at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. It was repeated at the International Comparative Literature Association XV in Leiden in August 1997.

At the Brown University International Symposium in Honor of Geoffrey W. Ribbans “Modernism and Modernity in Spain and Spanish America,” September...

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