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Literary Retranslation in Context


Edited By Susanne M. Cadera and Andrew Samuel Walsh

The present study examines the interrelation between literary texts, their successive retranslations and the corresponding historical, social and cultural backgrounds that inform these versions. In the case of each text, the authors analyse both the external factors (sociohistorical circumstances, publishing context, authors, translators, etc.) and the internal ones (text analysis, translation procedures or strategies) that influence this interrelation. The book also considers how the decision to retranslate a literary work may be due not only to the commercial criteria established by publishers, but also to external developments in the historical, cultural or social environment of the target culture, or to an evolution in the poetic and aesthetic considerations of the translations themselves, since translational activities and approaches change and evolve over time. Consequently, the procedures inherent in translation may influence the reception and perception of the original text in the target culture. Finally, the book explores how the retranslations of a work of literature may even change the image of an author and the perception of his or her work that has been established by previous translations.
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8 Ossian and Werther in Spain (Arturo Peral Santamaría)


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8 Ossian and Werther in Spain


Scholars have considered Ossian’s reception in Spain to have been very superficial, as his influence was only detectable in some authors and his impact on Spanish Romanticism was very limited. This might be true in terms of direct reception, but thanks to the presence of Ossianic fragments in the novel Die Leiden des Jungen Werther [The Sorrows of Young Werther] by Goethe, which has been very popular since the nineteenth century to the present, the images and themes published by Macpherson have had a surprisingly intense presence in different cultural manifestations. In this chapter, we aim to observe the Wertherian indirect reception of Ossian in Spain through translations, the press and music.

Ossian and his direct influence in Spain

Between 1760 and 1763, a young man called James Macpherson (1736–1796) published several volumes of poetry that shocked Pre-Romantic Europe. This Scottish author claimed to have found Gaelic compositions by a third-century bard called Ossian and that the works he was offering the world were nothing but translations of these poems. The ensuing controversy was assured: some considered them authentic, which would demonstrate that the ancient inhabitants of Northern Europe were capable of producing art that was just as complex and sophisticated as the better known civilizations of Southern Europe. Others, on the contrary, considered the poems to be a very elaborate hoax. The poems became...

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