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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 As Jiménez constantly revised his own work, hitherto unpublished annotations prove important to understanding this journey.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 status of Juan Ramón Jiménez, first resident of the Caribbean to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, is not in doubt. Yet his translations are rarely studied. This may be because the majority were published together with his bilingual wife, Zenobia Camprubí Aymar. But even when published under her name alone, his style and sensibility can be detected. The couple worked together every day.

A step in the right direction was Soledad González Ródenas’s edition Juan Ramón Jiménez, “Música de otros”: traducciones y paráfrasis (Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, 2006). However, González Ródenas explicitly omits the translations from Rabindranath Tagore, the first person from India to win the Nobel Prize. They constitute the great bulk of the Jiménez translations overall and stretch over a time period of some forty years. In her book Juan Ramón a través de su biblioteca (Universidad de Sevilla, 2005), she names Howard T. Young as the best student of English influence on Jiménez. Alas, his article “The Invention of an Andalusian Tagore,” Comparative Literature 47.1 (Winter 1995): 42–52 is very short.←xi | xii→

Tagore is particularly interesting, because he translated himself from Bengali into English. In his book Self-Translation: Brokering Originality in Hybrid Cultures (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), Anthony Cordingley devotes only two pages to Tagore, but at least the subject has been broached. There is much to analyze in the text the couple was...

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