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Literary and Cultural Relations

Ireland, Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe

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Edited By Maria Kurdi

The lively, informative and incisive collection of essays sheds fascinating new light on the literary interrelations between Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. It charts a hitherto under-explored history of the reception of modern Irish culture in Central and Eastern Europe and also investigates how key authors have been translated, performed, and adapted. The work of Jonathan Swift, John Millington Synge, Flann O'Brien, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and Martin McDonagh, it is indicated, has particularly inspired writers, directors, and translators. The searching analyses presented here illuminatingly reflect on the far-reaching political and social import of multicultural exchange. It is shown to be a process that is at best mutually defining and that raises questions about received forms of identity, the semiotics of genre and the possibilities and limits of linguistic translation. In addition, the histories compiled here of critical commentary on Irish literature in Hungary or of the staging of contemporary Irish plays in Hungary and in the Czech Republic, for example, uncover the haphazardness of intercultural exchange and the extent to which it is vulnerable to political ideology, social fashion, and the vagaries of state funding. The revealing explorations undertaken in this volume of a wide array of Irish dramatic and literary texts, ranging from Gulliver's Travels to Translations and The Pillowman, tease out the subtly altered nuances that they acquire in a Central European context. By the same token, it is demonstrated that Ireland has been changed by the recent migration of workers from Eastern Europe and that consequently projections of the figure of the emigrant or asylum seeker in current drama warrant scrutiny. This original and combative collection demonstrates, not only that literary exchange between Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Ireland has been prolonged, multifaceted and, above all, enriching, but also that it exposes blind-spots, and forces confrontation with issues of racism, failure of empathy and cultural misprision.

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5 | Brian Friel Performances in Hungarian Theatres: Problems in Theatrical Adaptation

5 |   Brian Friel Performances in Hungarian Theatres: Problems in Theatrical Adaptation

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Csilla Bertha

Adaptation of any kind – whether interlinguistic, intercultural, or intermedial – seems to have risen in estimation lately, sometimes even to overestimation. One fundamental thesis of contemporary adaptation-theory holds that adaptations are not derivative, therefore not secondary to the original, but are rather autonomous works of equal value, ‘aesthetic objects in their own right [although] it is only as inherently double- or multilaminated works that they can be theorized as adaptations’.1 The requirement of faithfulness to the original has therefore, become obsolete. But if ‘fidelity criticism’ is no longer fruitful, then what criteria might we set for a good adaptation – translation, theatre direction, or film adaptation – of literary texts? Accepting the premises that every translation and retranslation is interpretation and that a theatrical performance is a work of art in which the original written dramatic text is only one component among all the other, non-verbal, physical, material-gestural components, I still believe that a translator, a theatre director, dramaturg, stage-/costume-designer has serious responsibilities towards the author whose work s/he uses for whatever form and degree of adaptation. This issue of responsibility obviously raises many questions that I cannot answer here, such as: where are the limits to the freedom with ←85 | 86→which one can play with the original text in translation and stage direction? Who can or who has the right to judge if the adaptation does disservice to the author by falsifying the spirit, the register, the meaning of the work? How seriously does the adapter take...

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