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Translation as Oneself

The Re-Creative Modernism in Stéphane Mallarmé’s Late Sonnets, T. S. Eliot’s "Poems</I>, and the Prose Poetry since Charles-Pierre Baudelaire


Noriko Takeda

Translation encompasses the whole of humanness, and, as indicated by C. S. Peirce, translation is interpretation. It involves the cognitive process in its entirety, which is based on the unconscious life force shared globally through the species. Synonymous with «untranslatability» in the challenging ambiguity, the generic unit named modernist poetry represents the potential of human activities as incessant translations. The interactive cognateness of translation and modernist poetry is clarified through this book on the purported untranslatability of the poems by the avant-gardists, in particular, Stéphane Mallarmé and T. S. Eliot. Modernism also accelerated the reformation of Japanese poetry, as is exemplified by a new genre modeled on Charles-Pierre Baudelaire’s poetry in prose. These inspiring texts direct the reader to re-create the world with their multidimensional growth of meanings. The translation of the verbal artifacts plays a key role to the sustainability of human beings, along with their conditions as a circular whole.
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Chapter Five. What the Thrush Said: The Re-Creative Secondness as a Synthetic Thirdness

← 87 | 88 → CHAPTER FIVE


The Re-Creative Secondness as a Synthetic Thirdness

In the first section of T.S. Eliot’s “Burnt Norton” (1943), a singing thrush in echoes acts as a guide in the same way as Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy. The thrush appears in the middle of the narrative section to direct a pair of wanderers into a rose-garden presumably situated underground, calling “find them, find them.” The influence of Dante’s Comedy on Eliot is proved by the exotic title of the latter’s 1920 collection, Ara Vos Prec, which represents a speech of a character in the former’s Comedy.1

The Eliot thrush is a node of reminiscence and intertextuality. A classical series of literary echoes is gathered by the reticent bird: those of Dante’s Divine Comedy and the succession of English romantic poems by Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Browning as the patriarchal predecessors, i.e., the influential canon.

As with Dante’s Comedy, Eliot’s thrush section directs a couple of apprentices to explore the rose-garden as an illusory reservoir with an omniscient guide; the thrush is like the Latin poet. Both works modernize the Bible. In Dante’s work, the third sphere of heaven, which simulates an auditorium, may be considered as taking the form of a blooming rose, this transformation of the sunny ball. In Eliot’s first section of “Burnt Norton,” equally, a peeping rose is identified with the sun, as both are emitting the interchangeable rays of light. Moreover, the conclusion of ← 88 | 89 → Eliot’s Four Quartets, of which...

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