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Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi SPECIAL ISSUE




Acta Iassyensia Comparationis

400 Years with Shakespeare & Cervantes 400 años con Shakespeare & Cervantes

SPECIAL ISSUE http://literaturacomparata.ro/Site_Acta/index.html


uring the 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, their works have lived on, inspiring generation after generation, age after age and culture after culture, crossing spatial and temporal boundaries, being appropriated, used and sometimes even abused in various attempts to justify different ends. Thus, Shakespeare has become more than a Renaissance English playwright and poet, in the same way that Cervantes has become more than the one true father of Spanish prose. They are now seen as cultural phenomena and their writings have been refashioned, re-written, re-interpreted and re-contextualized in a variety of texts ranging from literature to visual arts, music, film, cartoons, on-line documentaries, advertisements, etc. The ever- new ways of reading the Bard’s, as well as the Prince of Wits’ works, do not necessarily bring new insights into or understanding of their characters, but reveal more about ourselves, about the way we see the world and internalize certain feelings, attitudes, choices or reactions.

In order to celebrate both writers and their works, but also all those who have been interested in their cultural afterlives for four centuries, we have gathered in this anniversary issue a selection of articles on a variety of Shake- spearean and Cervantian topics, ranging from literary theory and criticism or comparative literature to cultural, translation or performance studies.

nIssue editors:

Iulia Andreea Milică,Gabriela-Iuliana Colipcă-Ciobanu & Alina Ţiţei


os 400 años que transcurrieron desde la muerte de William Shakespeare y Miguel de Cervantes han visto pervivir sus obras, inspirando generación tras generación, siglo tras siglo y cultura tras cultura, trascendiendo los límites espaciales y temporales, siendo apropiadas, utilizadas y a veces incluso abusadas en un sinfín de intentos por justificar diferentes fines. Así, Shakespeare se ha convertido en más que un dramaturgo y poeta renacentista inglés, de la misma manera que Cervantes se ha convertido en más que el único y verdadero padre de la prosa castellana. Hoy en día ambos son considerados fenómenos culturales y sus creaciones han sido remodeladas, reescritas, reinterpretadas y recontextualizadas en una variedad de textos que van desde la literatura a las artes visuales, música, cine, dibujos animados, documentales, anuncios publicitarios, etc. Las siempre nuevas maneras de leer las obras del Vate, así como las del Príncipe de los Ingenios no nos ofrecen necesariamente la opor- tunidad de comprender mejor a sus personajes, sino que revelan más sobre nosotros mismos, sobre nuestra forma de ver el mundo e internalizar ciertos sentimientos, actitudes, opciones o reacciones.

Para celebrar a estos escritores y a sus obras, pero también a todos aquellos que se han interesado en sus vidas culturales posteriores durante cuatro siglos, hemos reunido en este número conmemorativo una selección de artículos sobre una variedad de temas shakesperianos y cervantinos que van desde la teoría y crítica literaria o la literatura comparada hasta los estudios culturales, teatrales o de la traducción.

nEditoras del volumen:

Iulia Andreea Milică, Gabriela-Iuliana Colipcă-Ciobanu & Alina Ţiţei



©2017 AIC


Elena Ciobanu

“A Pound of Flesh as Forfeit”.

Deconstructive Patterns in The Merchant of Venice...1

Ileana Oana Macari

Considerations on the Translation of Shakespeare’s Titles into Romanian...11

Silvana N. Fernández

De mapas y espacios en The Tempest(1611/1623) de William Shakespeare y Lord Jim (1900) de Joseph Conrad...25

Veronica Popescu

Japanese Romeo x Juliet as Site of Cultural Cross-Pollination ...33

Estella Antoaneta Ciobanu

Divine (with) Shakespeare: Two Postmodern Case Studies of Divination...43

Joseph P. Haughey

United States College Literary Soctiety Shakespearean Afterlives in the Nineteenth Century: James Cadman and Kalamazoo College’s Sherwood Rhetorical Society...53

Monica Matei-Chesnoiu

Space, Place, and Shifting Worlds in Shakespeare and Cervantes...61

Harry Berger JR

Canon Fodder: A Study of Don Quijote...73

Andrei-Iulian Din

El Camino de Don Quijote...91

Laura Carasevici

Don Quijote de la Mancha e Ignatius Reilly: dos locos cuerdos. Un encuentro entre Miguel de Cervantes y John Kennedy Toole...97

Lavinia Similaru

El mundo contemporáneo en los Entremesesde Cervantes...103

Alin Titi Călin

La riqueza paremiológica del Quijote: características y valoración...113

Lavinia Ienceanu

Don Quijote en el Nuevo Mundo.

Las picardías, candideces z quijotadas de un hidalgo disoluto...121 Dana Mihaela Giurcă

El Quijote universal. Siglo XXI...129


“A Pound of Flesh as Forfeit”.

Deconstructive Patterns in The Merchant of Venice


Universitatea „Vasile Alecsandri”, Bacău

Shakespeare’s ‘anti-Semitism’, as manifested in one of his most ideologically con- troversial plays, The Merchant of Venice, has been intensely debated throughout the centuries and continues to be, now more than ever, a most intriguing issue. Analyti - cal approaches have variously inclined towards one or the other side of the debate, by constructing Shylock sympathetically or by condemning him for his excessive hatred. Critics like Harold Bloom, James Shapiro and John Gross believe that the play is rampantly anti-Semitic. In the opposite camp, a recent study by Martin Yaffe proposes that, on the contrary, the play should be seen as pro-Jewish, since Shylock is nothing more than a bad Jew who cannot be representative for his race.

Everybody agrees on the fact that we can hardly speculate as to Shakespeare’s own attitude towards Jews, for his personal views are notoriously absent from his texts.

Yet he could not have constructed such a character without taking into account all the prejudices and clichés of his time, which he re-moulds in his play until they are turned into uneasy questions haunting the minds of readers and audiences. Our linguistic and stylistic analysis focuses on the ways in which religious enmity is transmuted and taken to a climactic development through a financial and legal dis- pute based on an intransigent logic of usury fuelled by an inexpressible spite. Jew- ishness and Christianity confront each other through a secular law that is

indifferent to their spiritual tenets and that equally menaces them both. It is the blind rejection of the other that deconstructs both perspectives and paves the way for a future transcending synthesis which, like the pale lead praised by Bassanio, no longer hides errors beneath deceiving ornaments..

Keywords: Jewishness; Christianity; discourse; identity; law; subversion.


he Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s “problem play”, has been a continual source of critical controversy over the centuries. This controversy reached its climax in the sec- ond half of the 20thcentury, after historical tragedies like the Holocaust. In the wake of mass killings of Jews by the Nazis, a text such as that written by Shakespeare has been per- ceived, especially by Jewish analysts, as a prefiguration of the anti-Semitic doctrines that wrought havoc in the Jewish community.

Most prominent among such literary critics is Harold Bloom who, for all his openly declared veneration of Shakespeare as centre of the western literary canon, identifies in The Merchant of Venice an uncharacteristic mentality which convinces him that, “[i]n this play alone, Shakespeare was very much of his age, and not for all time” (1998: 205). “One would have to be blind, deaf and dumb”, Bloom asserts, “not to recognize that Shakespeare’s grand, equivocal comedy The Merchant of Veniceis nevertheless a profoundly anti-Semitic work” (2008: 171). Other critics, on the contrary, feel that “Shylock is no more a mere means to exemplifying the Semitic problem than is Othello for the raising of the colour question” (Granville-Barker, 2005: 351).


©2017 AIC


Admittedly or not, the entire dispute originates in what Bloom considers “Shakespeare’s dis- concerting addition to the pound of flesh story: the forced conversion” (1998: 175). The Ame - rican critic believes it is dramatically unmotivated, which demonstrates, for him, that the author must have been contaminated with racial hostility against a disadvantaged ethnic group in a period when the world was not yet dreaming of tolerance and political correctness. Simple logic would suggest that dramatic inconsistencies can only prove an author’s creative awkwardness or failure.

However, general critical thought (Harold Bloom included) finds it hard to accept that Shake- speare, an author so attentive to all sorts of details and shades of meaning, could have committed such unconscious blunders. After all, at the time of composing The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare had already produced some of his incontestably great tragedies and comedies (among them, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Thus, the only possible conclusion to be drawn is that ‘the Shylock mistake’ must have been made intentionally. At this point, the tempta- tion of qualifying this intention as racial prejudice may become, as it indeed has become, irre- sistible.

One of the causes of such slippages in literary criticism is undoubtedly the fact that Shylock is not considered as a being woven into the fabric of his world, defined by his connections, re- jections or acceptances of the things of that world. He is instead taken out of his context: “De- taching Shylock from the comic structure, ignoring his cunning, malice, and hypocrisy, ascribing to him high-minded motives, seeing him as a sincere representation of persecuted Judaism, even imagining that Shakespeare was unable to ‘control’ his character – this whole seemingly innocent distortion of the play’s central emphases results in the charge that Shakespeare was guilty of anti- Semitism” (Baker, 2005: xxiv).

When reinserted in the world of the play, Shylock’s individuality not only confirms the onto- logical weight that appears to make his conversion untenable for some, but it also offers us valu- able clues for understanding his problematic behaviour. The baffling “I am content” (4.1.390) answer at the end of the trial is less shocking if we place it within the sequence of answers given by Shylock in the scene, a sequence showing him as a human being reduced almost to caricature by his monomaniacal desire to cut the pound of flesh from Antonio’s breast. His judgment being clouded by his “affection”, Shylock is unable to regain his initial poise and is doomed, for lack of self-control, to lose everything. His punishment, in true Shakespearean fashion, is necessarily trig- gered by his evil passion of resentment and vengefulness evolving to an unacceptable extreme.

Harold Bloom’s reproach to Shakespeare, at this point, is that he did not allow Shylock to die a tragic, but honourable death, by refusing to convert to Christianity. On the one hand, as other critics have argued, Shylock’s death would have been inappropriate in a romantic comedy in which the Jew plays the role of the comic villain, not that of a tragic hero. On the other hand, and more importantly, Shylock’s words and deeds throughout the play do not qualify him for the “negative transcendence” (Bloom, 1998: 187) villains like Iago or Edmund will later partake of. In spite of his occasional pathos, Shylock cannot overcome his limits and open his mind and heart to truths alien to the paradigm of money – the only one he seems to understand properly. His appraisal of Antonio at the beginning of the play signals a very narrow and downgrading perspective:


Antonio is a good man.


Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?


Oh, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a good man is to have you un- derstand me that he is sufficient… (1.3.12-16)

The semantic reduction of “good” to “sufficient” is the first instance of the effects of the equivocation that governs the whole play. Shylock himself deconstructs, as it were, the other’s


discourse in order to affirm his way of dealing with things. This deconstruction is fuelled by and performed through an irony rooted in a long-lived resentment:


[Aside] How like a fawning publican he looks!

I hate him for he is a Christian, But more for that in low simplicity He lends out money gratis and brings down The rate of usance here with us in Venice. (1.3.39-43)

As it turns out, this hatred is less motivated by religion than by financial competition, which subverts any attempt to interpret the play as religious confrontation first and foremost. By sub- ordinating everything to the discourse of financial matters, Shylock also deconstructs himself into a mercantile Venetian. His assimilation by the greedy merchant society in which he lives threatens his integrity as a member of the Jewish community. It has been said that Shylock and Portia are the representatives of the Old Testament and the New Testament, respectively, and that their conflict is the conflict between the old law and the new, the latter finally pushing the former into the background. Still, despite the fact that Shylock “can cite the Scripture for his pur- pose” (1.3.97), he does it quite rarely and only to manipulate it for his own interests, not for the sake of any high moral purpose or ethical personal improvement. What he wants is to defeat his enemies with the same weapons they use, on a common ground. Jewish critics themselves recog- nize that Shylock’s desire of revenge is untypical of Judaism and that what is missing in Shylock is “the whole region of Jewish spirituality” (Baker, 2005: xxxviii). Inner faith or truly lived religion is replaced in Shylock by a set of rules.

The equivocation or duplicity of his discourse is symbolically pre-figured, at the beginning of the play, by the image of the “two-headed Janus” (1.1.50) Salarino uses when he tries to find the reason of Antonio’s sadness in the first scene. The name Janus itself is mirrored graphically and phonetically in another name, Jason, twice mentioned in the text. Linguistically, the partial inversion of letters and sounds (Janus/Jason) in these names brings their meanings closer, thereby implying that differences are only superficial and that they are melted in the course of pursuing a common goal – that of gaining material riches. Antonio and Shylock may figure as foils, but there are more similarities between them than they would like to admit: their superficial spirituality, their dirty financial dealings, their intolerance, their passionate natures. When Portia, the dea ex machina of the play, enters the court in Act IV, she begins her trial by asking a most intriguing question: “Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?” (4.1.170). The question is intriguing because it would have been apparent to all participants in the scene who was who: at the time, Jews could be easily spotted in a crowd by their clothes and by various outward signs imposed on them by the authorities:

We know that Shylock would have been dressed in a “gabardine”, because, we are told, Antonio habitually spits on it. This was a long garment of hard cloth ha- bitually worn by Jews who, since 1412, had been obliged to wear a distinctive robe extending down to the feet. Shylock would have been, literally, a “marked” man (in a previous century he would have had to wear a yellow hat). Antonio, a rich mer- chant who […] is more likely to have been dressed in some of the “silk” in which he trades […]. It would have been unmissably obvious which was the merchant and which was the Jew. (Tanner, 2010: 117)

Thus, the question cannot be interpreted as an index of disguised inability, on Portia’s behalf, to make the difference between them. Instead, it signals a deconstructive ambiguity of reference that has also been identified in the title of the play itself. The title, just like the play, somehow, becomes a sort of undecidable, to use Derrida’s term. One line of argument has it that Shylock ELENA CIOBANU 3


cannot be the merchant of the title since he is prevented by his Jewishness to do commerce in Venice. His source of income is the practising of usury – an occupation that was forbidden to, and consequently very much despised by, the Christians of the time.1Besides, Antonio is fore- grounded as merchant from the very beginning of the play, when we find out about his trade overseas.

One counter-argument to the idea that Shylock may not be the merchant of the title is the fact that the terms “merchant” and “usurer” were often used interchangeably at the time: “Before they were expelled from some European countries and restricted in their professions in others, Jews figured prominently as merchants in international trade, taking advantage of their contacts with their coreligionists throughout the Mediterranean. During this time, the term Jew was as as- sociated with trade as with usury” (Rosenshield, 2002: 30).

Moreover, the historical truth is that Venice, in that period, offered shelter for three distinct Jewish groups: the Ponentines and the Levantines, who spoke Spanish or Portuguese and had come from across the Alps after having been expelled from the Spanish peninsula, and the Nazione Tedesca, thought to be of German origin, but who were considerably more integrated in the Ve- netian community and spoke the language of the adoptive country. Shylock belonged to the latter group, more as a native than as a newcomer, as indicated by the fact that he practised usury, com- merce being forbidden to the German Jews, but being allowed to the other two communities (see Roth, 2005: 358-359). Also, Shylock’s language is hardly different from that spoken by the other characters in the play, even though an attentive analysis can reveal subtle differences in certain word choices or syntactical constructions.2Although he was one of the Jews that were not allowed to practise trade in Venice, it would be by no means accurate to say that the Jew as a type could not have been associated in the minds of his contemporaries with that of the merchant.

Be that as it may, religious prejudice was bound to influence commercial relations between economic actors of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (especially between Christians and Jews), as proven by Antonio’s defamatory behaviour towards Shylock:


Signior Antonio, many a time and oft In the Rialto you have rated me About my moneys and my usances: […]

You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,

And all for use of that which is mine own. […]

You, that did void your rheum upon my beard And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur Over your threshold: moneys is your suit

What should I say to you? (1.3.106-108; 1.3.111-113; 1.3.117-120)

When Shylock addresses such words to Antonio, comedy has already set on stage one of its characteristic reversals: it is no longer Shylock that is at a financial disadvantage, but Antonio, the latter being compelled to appeal to usury and thus expose himself to Shylock’s despised practices.

This reversal, like all the others in the play, blurs the culturally sanctioned distinction between the 4

1Usury was also forbidden to Jews by the Torah, but there was no prohibition regarding Jews charging in‐

terest on loans to non‐Jews. For Christians, however, usury was prohibited by papal edicts, especially be‐

ginning with the 14thcentury (seeChazan, 2006: 51‐66).

2In Otto Jespersen’s view, such linguistic deviations from the standard of Shakespeare’s day (for example, the preference of ‘advantage’ or ‘thrift’ for ‘interest’, of ‘usance’ for ‘usury’, of ‘equal’ (pound) for ‘exact’, of

‘rheum’ for ‘saliva’, or of ‘estimable’ for ‘valuable’; words used only by Shylock in Shakespeare: ‘eaneling’,

‘misbeliever’, ‘bane’; peculiar phrases like ‘we trifle time’ or ‘rend out’ instead of ‘rend’) helped the play‐

wright construct characters like Shylock, Caliban or the witches in Macbethby “stamping them as beings out of the common sort” (1921: 219).


Jewish usurer and the Christian merchant by reducing them both to obeying one and the same harsh logic: the logic of money. Ambiguity further reaches an ironical climax in Shylock’s imposed conversion, a moment in which Shylock symbolically turns into Antonio, i.e., another Christian merchant, no longer linked with Jewishness and usury.

This could be taken further into other critical fields. For Gary Rosenshield, it is less Shylock’s conversion that is at stake here than Antonio’s unconscious fears that his being a merchant is at odds with the principles of his Christianity: “The question that the play implicitly asks is not whether Shylock can become a Christian but whether Antonio can be both a Christian and a mer- chant: that is, a merchant and not in some way also a Jew. Is it possible for a Christian to escape

‘Judaization’ in a world rapidly being transformed by a mercantile and pre-capitalist economy?

And if Antonio cannot escape the corruption of finance, can anyone?” (2002: 29).

To go back to Portia’s question, its inescapable hint that the two men are practically indistin- guishable by their outer appearances brings with it a momentary liberal stance that cares nothing for race or class. Antonio and Shylock are perfectly equal in the act of justice and both of them bow before and cherish this equality, albeit from very different emotional vantage points. Here, more than anywhere else in the play, the text emerges as absolutely lacking in anti-Semitism. Being a Jew does not prevent Shylock from claiming his right, just as being a Christian does not favour Antonio. I believe that, in The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare explores the possibility of a dis- course able to function as a common denominator for everyone belonging to the world of the play.

The setting chosen for this purpose appears as the most appropriate, as the Venice of the time was renowned for its benevolent policy towards strangers. According to Allan Bloom, “it was the place where the various sorts of men could freely mingle and it was known the world over as the most tolerant city of its time. [...] From the end of the sixteenth century up to the middle of the seventeenth, Venice was constantly admired and written about as the model for a good political order in modernity. It preceded Amsterdam as the model” (1964: 14-15).

As a citizen of Venice, Shylock was privileged in comparison to the other members of the Jewish diaspora spread out across Europe in the sixteenth century. It is not only his wealth and relative freedom that forms his privilege, but primarily that “law of Venice” which Shylock ob- sessively cites as the irrefutable authority under whose protection he can have his “forfeiture”.

No one can contradict him on that. While they are trying to make him reconsider his position, the Venetians are fully aware that the Jew’s insistence that he “have his bond” cannot be denied – not even by the Duke himself:


The duke cannot deny the course of law:

For the commodity that strangers have With us in Venice, if it be denied, Will much impeach the justice of his state;

Since that the trade and profit of the city Consisteth of all nations. (3.3.28-33)

Antonio’s words reveal that the discourse on the grounds of which everybody can claim their rights irrespective of race or class does not derive its power from traditional values linked with religion, but from another element, much more appropriate to the paradigm of modernity. Allan Bloom shows that the achievement of an atmosphere of tolerance in Renaissance cities like Venice was the result of the awareness that religious attachment could only be overcome by a so- cial order in which religion would not play the leading part:

It was not thought possible to educate men to a tolerant view nor to overcome the power of the established religions by refuting them; the only way was to sub- stitute for the interest and concern of men’s passions another object as powerfully



attractive as religion. Such an object was to be found in the jealous desire for gain;

the commercial spirit causes men to moderate their fanaticism; men for whom money is the most important thing are unlikely to go off on crusades. (1964: 16)

In Shakespeare’s play, it is this very “jealous desire for gain” that curbs wills and shapes des- tinies, whereas old principles are trespassed: Antonio’s Christianity is subverted by his discrimi- natory treatment of Shylock, and Shylock’s apparent solidarity with his community and obedience of the Jewish doctrine is exposed as shallow in his accepting to have dinner with Christians or in his refusal to be merciful. Such trespassing will soon be punished, and the “forfeitures” are going to be quite dramatic for those involved. It may be no coincidence that one of the most often re- peated words in the play is “forfeit” (it appears eleven times in this form and nine times as part of “forfeiture”). Punishment for an excess of passion (be it melancholy, envy, hatred or resent- ment) is thus translated into the language of commercial contracts. Shakespeare, contrary to what we might expect from one belonging to his age, had the profound intuition of the fact that the nature of the discourse in whose terms the participants would have been able to find themselves on the same ground with the others could not be religious, but juridical and political. And quite prophetically, Shakespeare also understood that this discourse can but be marked by many insuf- ficiencies causing hostility and unrest. It is nevertheless inextricably interwoven with the mercantile economy of Venice, where any impeachment of the law would endanger the entire social and economic edifice by dissolving power and authority.

Shylock, in his desire for gain, is cynical enough to understand, better than any other character in the play, the necessity for such a secular law governing the fabric of society. However, his utter materialism eventually condemns him, for it makes him idolize the law and fail to escape its “eye for an eye” literalism. If Shylock is to be seen as a representative of his race, then he must be seen as the specimen through whom Shakespeare criticizes Jewish fundamentalist attitudes that refuse any transcendence, openness or creativity. Following the same logic, if Antonio is the rep- resentative of Christianity, then, through him, Christianity is exposed as hypocritical and false.

Such criticism is at its highest in the trial scene, during which both religious paradigms and mentalities are revealed as superficially adopted by the characters. By the time Portia arrives in court as Balthasar, Shylock has reached the climax of his own idiosyncratic power. For a time, his incontestable demand reigns supreme, despite the others’ repeated injunctions for mercy and pity. The “knife” of his hatred, sharpened on the hard “stone” of his heart, is ready to cut out the pound of flesh out of Antonio’s breast.3His “justice” is based on a linguistic trick which uses an apparently less harmful synecdoche in order to conceal an atrocity: while he purports to take

“only” what is his, i.e., just a pound of flesh, what he is really bound to do is kill Antonio. Portia’s victory over Shylock is not obtained by appeals to ethical principles. These are counteracted by Shylock through a self-degrading exaltation of what he calls “affection”:


You’ll ask me, why I rather choose to have A weight of carrion flesh than to receive Three thousand ducats: I’ll not answer that:

But, say, it is my humour: is it answer’d? […]

3Shylock’s ardent desire to “have his bond” by cutting out a pound of flesh from Antonio’s breast has deep roots in cultural history. It carries with it centuries‐old fearful reminiscences of Jews as perpetrators of ritu‐

alistic murders on innocent Christians, an accusation that began with the so‐called Norwich incident of 1140, when a boy named William was found dead outside of town and the Jews were accused of the crime, despite the fact that there was never enough evidence to support some of the people’s spiteful sus‐

picions (seeChazan, 2006: 157). Also, the forfeiture of the pound of flesh automatically triggers associa‐

tions with the Jewish ritual of circumcision and turns Shylock into the exponent of a rebellious minority attempting to ‘circumcise’ or even ‘castrate’ the other, to convert the other to his own law, in the same abusive way in which the other tried to convert him to Christianity.


So can I give no reason, nor I will not, More than a lodged hate and a certain loathing I bear Antonio, that I follow thus

A losing suit against him. Are you answer’d? (4.1.40-43; 4.1.59-62)

When she attracts Shylock into her ingenious trap, Portia is fully aware that she must defeat him with the same literalness with which he wants to apply the law, and she manages to do it by using her superior intelligence and creativity. Shylock is broken by the very law he had tried to use for his personal vendetta: he is “a dupe of the law” (Bloom, 1964: 33).

Portia’s victory over Shylock is also a victory of her world over that in which Antonio and Shylock live. Rosenshield claims that “Belmont represents a utopic supersession of the economic orders represented by both Shylock and Antonio, a supersession of Belmont over Venice and all that it represents [...] In the utopic world of Act I, art triumphs over reality; the spiritual, social and economic victory is Portia’s, not Antonio’s” (2002: 43).

Art triumphs over reality indeed, since, in fact, the trial in the play is not a real one, but a device through which poetic justice is established. Nevertheless, Portia’s victory is itself marked by the same ambiguity that controls the deep structure of meaning in the play. Nothing can remain what it seems because of the endless mirroring of opposites into one another. Differences turn into similarities and identity is always threatened with dissolution by “the chink of coins [which] pervades the play as it does no other” (Nuttall, 2007: 121). There is a money vocabulary and imagery everybody shares which darkens any projected purity or innocence in the discourse of the play. The language of profit, trade, and legal contracts is dangerously close to the language of love, in the same way in which it insinuates itself in the discourse of identity.

When Bassanio tells his friend Antonio about his desire to conquer Portia, he uses an image which combines her being compared to the Golden Fleece with his projecting himself as a Jason among others:


In Belmont is a lady richly left,

And she is fair and fairer than that word, Of wondrous virtues. (1.1.61-63)

[...] her sunny locks Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,

Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ strond, And many Jasons come in quest of her. (1.1.169-172)

In a similar manner, Portia’s description of herself seems to filter character and beauty through the reductive lens of an accountant:


Though for myself alone

I would not be ambitious in my wish To wish myself much better, yet for you I would be trebled twenty times myself,

A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich, That only to stand high in your account

I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends, Exceed account. But the full sum of me Is sum of something which, to term in gross, Is an unlesson’d girl. (3.2.51-61)

Later on, after she promised her beloved to save Antonio by paying off his debt, she couches her amorous discourse in commercial terms again: “Since you are dear bought, I will love you ELENA CIOBANU 7


dear” (3.2.113). The ambiguity of the word “dear” blurs the semantic slash that otherwise would have rendered love and financial interest safely apart from each other. Furthermore, it becomes even more uncomfortable when echoed, with the same meaning, by Shylock’s petition in Act IV:

“’Tis dearly bought, ’tis mine, and I will have it” (3.1.100). In the same way, Jessica’s words to her Christian lover, “I will make fast the doors, and gild myself/ With some more ducats, and be with you straight” (2.5.98-99), reverberate with Shylock’s desperate cries after her elopement: “My daughter! O my ducats!” (2.8.15).

Identity discourses are thus tinged with associations, gestures or deeds that remind us of how Shakespeare’s favourite game as a playwright was to study stereotypes not only by presenting them as such, but also by overthrowing them. Apparently, Antonio is the representative of Chris- tianity (the New Law) and Shylock, that of Jewishness (the Old Law), but in the course of the play, their supposedly unsurpassable difference from each other turns into différanceby means of imagery, language and structural devices (repetition or reversal). Antonio and Shylock appear as both different and similar in terms of religion and financial matters. They are defined, so to say, against and through each other. They mirror each other in a circular mechanism involving identity and otherness. While each of them declares absolute allegiance to their own spiritual paradigm or community, they both trespass the limits imposed by those authorities. They are both tainted by an excess of passion which cannot go unpunished in Shakespeare. It is in fact they who sym- bolically choose the third casket, by risking all they have, and thus “gaining” Portia – who becomes the goddess of their destinies, their Nemesis.

The economic discourse that is woven into the fabric of The Merchant of Venicehelps us un- derstand why Antonio’s and Shylock’s passions cannot reach any transcendence: these passions are more like “affections” or “humours” of the body. The mercenary materialism of their out- looks, necessary for their trade, does not allow them to overcome the shallowness of their spiritual principles. Antonio’s or the Duke’s Christian mercy at the end of the trial feels more like cruelty, whereas Shylock’s tribal Jewishness is translated into a sort of individualistic manipulation of

“the law” for the sake of individualistic profit. As Nuttall observes,

Shakespeare employs throughout a latent system of allusions to the economic character of Venetian society and this system of allusions, instead of corroborating the stark opposition of good and evil proposed in the play’s main action, subtly undermines it. The economic allusions tell us – against the simple plot – that the Jews and the Christians are deeply similar, for all are mercenary. The general vice which Christians ascribe to the Jews is one of which they are themselves – in a less obvious manner – guilty. The Jews therefore perform a peculiar ethical function in that they bear the brunt of the more obvious dirty work necessary to the glittering city. (2007: 141)

Shylock’s apparently too easy acceptance of his conversion is based on his equating “life”

with “living”, i.e., life with the material means physically sustaining it. When his money is taken away from him, everything is taken away, including any ultimately irrelevant (for him) metaphysics:


Nay, take my life and all; pardon not that:

You take my house when you do take the prop That doth sustain my house; you take my life

When you do take the means whereby I live. (4.1.374-377)

If the body is the exclusive standard of measure and judgment, in a confrontation with the menace of death it is only the life of the body that prevails. Shylock’s silence and sickness render him coherent: it is only by the law of the body/matter/money that he can react or make decisions.

It is not his Jewishness that dictates his reaction here, but his humanity, that carnal humanity he


so precisely describes as being shared with all the other people in his “Hath not a Jew eyes?”

speech. And after all, how many Christians, faced with pending death, would choose it over life for the sake of high-minded principles? The problem of the “forced conversion” emerges as rather helplessly human.


BAKER, William & VICKERS, Brian (Eds.) (2005). Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition. The Merchant of Venice, 1775-1939. New York: Thoemmes Continuum.

BLOOM, Allan (1964). Shakespeare’s Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

BLOOM, Harold & HEIMS, Neill (Eds.) (2008). Bloom’s Shakespeare Through the Ages: The Merchant of Venice. New York: Infobase Publishing.

BLOOM, Harold (1998). Shakespeare. The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead Books.

CHAZAN, Robert (2006). The Jews of Medieval Western Christendom, 1000-1500. New York:

Cambridge University Press.

FRYE, Northrop (2008). A Natural Perspective: The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance. In Harold BLOOM & Neill HEIMS (eds.), Bloom’s Shakespeare Through the Ages: The Merchant of Venice(pp. 183-184). New York: Infobase Publishing.

GRANVILLE-BARKER, Harley (2005). Shakespeare’s Attention to Character and Story. In William BAKER & Brian VICKERS (eds.), Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition. The Merchant of Venice, 1775-1939(pp. 348-356). New York: Thoemmes Continuum.

JESPERSEN, Otto (1921). Growth and Structure of the English Language. Leipzig: B. G. Teub- ner.

NUTTALL, Anthony David (2007). A New Mimesis. Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality.

The Merchant of Venice. Yale: Methuen & Co.

ROSENSHIELD, Gary (2002). Deconstructing the Christian Merchant: Antonio and ‘The Merchant of Venice’. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, 20, 2, 28-51.

ROTH, Cecil (2005). Shylock the Venetian. In William BAKER & Brian VICKERS (eds.), Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition. The Merchant of Venice, 1775-1939(pp. 357-360). New York:

Thoemmes Continuum.

SHAKESPEARE, William (1999). The Complete Works of William Shakespeare(3rded.). Ware:

Wordsworth Editions.

TANNER, Tony (2010). Which Is the Merchant Here? And Which the Jew?: The Venice of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. In Harold BLOOM (ed.), William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice(pp. 117-138). New York: Infobase Publishing.



Considerations on the

Translation of Shakespeare’s Titles into Romanian


Universitatea „Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi

This paper has emerged out of the conviction that the rendition of titles into the TL is one of the most exciting and difficult challenges the translator has to re- spond to while translating a literary work. As Christiane Nord (1995) claims, if ti- tles are recognized as textual units forming a text-type which is intended to realize several specific functions, then the translator has to reconcile the conditions in the target culture with the communicative intentions of the source-title sender. In order to produce a functional title, the author and the translator are expected to fulfil the same functions, but both are limited by the further constraint of the number of words and the syntactic structures they can use in keeping with the type of text the title “labels”. If the text was produced for the stage, as in the case of Shakespeare’s plays, the length of the title was additionally affected by the ac- tual size of the playbills and posters, of the flags hoisted at the theatres and by the actual possibilities of the participants in the drum processions. Upon the examina- tion of Shakespeare’s titles in their Romanian translation, it becomes clear that, from the first versions proposed around 1840 to the most recent, the translators have been constantly striving for coming up with the optimal solutions. Through discussing the Romanian versions, this research highlights the importance of the translator’s linguistic and cultural competence in the SL and the TL when dealing with Shakespeare’s titles that comprise the essence of his absolute mastery over both language and human nature.

Keywords: title structure; title translation; Shakespeare’s titles; Shakespeare’s titles in Romanian.


For products that are sold, labels serve key purposes1such as brand identification2, product description3, use, grading4, and promotion, intended to provide relevant and reliable information quickly and clearly by using graphic visual representations. Similarly, the titles of both fictional and non-fictional texts5function in broad lines as labels and, like the labels applied to any goods, they first identify the product, then attract and inform the prospective reader.


©2017 AIC

1Identified as such in Beyond Just the Name – The Different Functions of Product Labels(LabelsOnline, 2012).

2“The visible elements of a brand (such as colours, design, logotype, name, symbol) that together identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers’ mind” (Luthra, 2011).

3“[…] who made the product, when and where it was made, what the contents comprise of, and how it is to be used safely. Hence you can find wine and beer labels, medical product labels, CD/DVD labels, ship‐

ping labels as well as bar code labels” (LabelsOnline, 2012).

4“Grading is the process of sorting individual units of a product into well‐defined classes or grades of qua ‐ lity” (Lakhotia).

5Here, texts are taken in the sense of “products”, i.e. the result of creative labour.


Thus, together with the need for relevance and reliability, most of the purposes above can be recognized in the titles of text products, where title “truthfulness” varies with the type of text between two polar extremes. At one extreme are the scientific texts, whose elaborate titles (i.e.

“Preparation and stability investigation of tamsulosin hydrochloride sustained release pellets con- taining acrylic resin polymers with two different techniques”, in Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sci- ences, Volume 12, Issue 2, March 2017, by Rui Fan, Yinghua Sun, Bing Li, Ruyi Yang, Wenrui Ma, Jin Sun, pp. 115-208) identify the brand, describe the content and use of the article and name its

“producers”, the publication date and journal in which they appeared. Although in full it is even longer than the previous example, Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who Lived Eight and Twenty Years, All Alone in an Un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, Near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having Been Cast on Shore by Shipwreck, Wherein All the Men Perished but Himself. With an Account how he was at last as Strangely De- liver’d by Pyrates. Written by Himself(1719), like many other narrative titles used in literature until the last part of the 18thcentury, cannot be situated at this same extreme because, as a literary title, it lacks factual truthfulness, i.e. it cannot be actually informative about an imaginary character.

Additionally, ambiguity and metaphoric devices commonly place literary titles at the opposite ex- treme due to their intentional lack of exactness, while newspaper headlines stand somewhere in between.

Such functions and features of the fictional title are included in Grivel’s formulation of its definition of fictional titles as “[a] set of linguistic signs ... that may appear at the head of a text to designate it, to indicate its subject matter as a whole, and to entice the targeted public” (apud Genette, 1997: 76). With regard to the targeted audience of a literary product as the sum of the customers who either buy a book or attend a theatrical performance or a film, Genette and Crampé note that the title has a much larger audience than the text itself, because “[i]f the recipient of the text is actually the reader, the recipient of the title is the public […]. The title addresses itself to many more people than does the text, people who in one way or another receive and transmit it, and thereby contribute to its circulation” (1988: 707).

If texts were produced for the stage and not for readers per se, as in the case of Shakespeare’s plays, the length of the title was additionally affected by the size of the playbills and posters, of the flags hoisted at the theatres and by the actual possibilities of the participants in the drum processions. Before and during Shakespeare’s time,

performances by strolling players or guilds were announced by processions of the performers themselves, sometimes accompanied by vexillators – people carrying banners. Town-criers also announced performances, with actors beating drums or playing other instruments. For those who could read, brief hand-written details of performances were handed out and stuck to posts in towns, giving rise to the word

“poster” […]. The earliest posters or playbills measured about 17.5 x 7.5 cm. We know that some were printed by 1587, when a printer was granted a licence for

“the only ympryntinge of all manner of bills for players.” (Theatre posters)

Genette and Crampé identify a tripartite assembly of titles (title, subtitle and genre classifica- tion)6which will be applied further on to Shakespeare’s titles by recognizing the occurrence of these elements and their resulting combinations. Currently obsolete except for the circumstances in which authors choose to resort to parodical or imitational strategies, the use of autonomous indications of genre used to be customary in the classical period, when it basically affected the

“major genres”, especially plays, which were always carefully labelled “tragedy” or “comedy” by a notation external to the title itself, in contrast to incorporated indications of the type The Tragedy of King Richard the Second or The Comedy of Errors(Genette, 1997: 95).

6The authors illustrate it in Zadig(title), ou la Destinée(subtitle), Histoire orientale (genre classification) and note that the presence of the three elements at the same time “is the most complete state of a de facto system in which the only mandatory element, in our present culture, is the first one” (1988: 694).


In Bobadilla Pérez’s view, the title is “an integral part of the rhetoric of the whole text”. It is

“unmediated by a narrative voice”, so that “it may be, in fact, as close as we come within that text to an authorial voice” (2007: 117). With performed plays, titles are even more significant, as they are the only part of the text that is normally read on playbills only and not “spoken” on the stage by the actors. The same Bobadilla Pérez regards titles as “the most imprecise, capricious and subjective component of the whole narrative” (117), which turns them into a translation challenge that is described by Nord as follows: “the translator has to reconcile the conditions in the target culture with the communicative intentions of the source-title sender (= functionality + loyalty)” (1995: 261). In order to produce a functional title, the author and the translator are ex- pected to fulfil the same functions, but both are limited by the further constraint of the number of words and the syntactic structures7they can use in keeping with the type of text the title “labels”.


A discussion of the translation of Shakespeare’s titles into Romanian should normally start from clearly stating the source material, i.e. the source language versions that have been used by the Romanian translators over time, beginning with the 19thcentury when they first appeared in print. However, such an approach would be quasi-impossible, for at least two reasons. First, as Shewmaker comments, Shakespeare’s manuscripts did not

survive […] to authenticate or corroborate the text of the plays that have come down to us. […] We know them only through the printed editions of his day and the first collection of his works, familiar to us as the First Folio, published in 1623, seven years after his death. Since then, generations of editors have revised, emended, and theorized an endless number of editions into print, each with new- found confidence that this one corrects previous errors and misconceptions and presents Shakespeare as he would have had it. (2008: ix)

Shakespeare’s own lack of interest in the publication of his plays is generally explained by the Bard’s conviction that they were exclusively meant for the stage8,9, probably because during his time, plays, as opposed to poetry, “were not regarded as literature; at best they were tolerated by the authorities as popular entertainments” (Schalkwyk, 2015: xiv).

Secondly, (especially, but not only) the older Romanian translations do not identify the source text they are based on, so that it is difficult to know if the Romanian version used the English original or a French, German or Italian version. Furthermore, in English, most of the plays are currently identified by a “short” variant, often without the subtitle or the gender identification, as in Henry VIIIinstead of The Life of King Henry the Eighth or King John forThe Life and Death of King John. Even the most recent translations do not clearly identify the version they used, so the present article will discuss only the translated titles in the versions I could find.10The argument ILEANA OANA MACARI 13

7There are “six syntactic forms (nominal titles, verbal titles, sentence titles, adverbial titles, attributive ti‐

tles, and interjection titles) and a limited number of microstructural patterns like “NP & NP” = nominal phrase + connective + nominal phrase, as in John Jakes: Heaven and Hell” (Nord, 1995: 282).

8“[A]s far as we can tell [Shakespeare] didn’t expect his plays to be read and never lifted a finger to assist their publication” (Jenkins, 1982).

9Shakespeare himself was an actor, and he knew better than anyone how to write effectively for other ac‐

tors. In fact the best possible advice on acting the plays comes from Shakespeare himself in the guise of Hamlet (3.2.1‐2) when the young prince advises the players at length how he would like his lines spoken (“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue”). Probably no more useful advice has ever been offered to actors (Shewmaker, 2008: 16).

10The following sites provided some useful, if incomplete, information on Shakespeare in Romanian trans‐

lations: shine.unibas.ch/translatorsromanian.htm, opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/plays.php, ho‐

riagarbea.blogspot.ro/2015/12/traduceri‐din‐shakespeare‐editia.html,ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List% C4%83 _d e_traduc %C4%83tori_rom%C3%A2ni_ai_operei_lui_Shakespeare.


concerns the titles of Shakespeare’s sonnets, poems and plays.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

The above-mentioned lack of interest Shakespeare had in the publication of his plays appears not to apply to his 154 sonnets, collected in the 1609 Quarto edition published by Thomas Thorpe. As Ledger argues, “we should not take the absence of evidence about Shakespeare’s publishing intentions to be indicative that he did not wish to have his Sonnets published”. Ledger claims that the “the tripartite division of the work” broadly characterized by their themes builds a harmonious relationship between the sections and turns it into “strong internal evidence that the Sonnets were carefully prepared for publication (2009).

At first sight, the titles of the sonnets pose no problems to the translator, since they contain the genre classification (Sonnet) and the opus number assigned (I, LVI, etc.), which are obviously transferred into Romanian as such, even with the preservation of the Roman numerals. However, the discussion of Shakespeare’s intention or lack of intention to publish his sonnets becomes relevant in light of Duncan-Jones’s observations in “What Are Shakespeare’s Sonnets Called?”

regarding the title page of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.11The author interprets the genitive in Shake- speare’s name on the cover as an intentional “assertion of possession and authorship” that occurs

“even before we are enlightened as to the genre of poems by (and about?) Shakespeare which are to ensue” (1997: 5). Subsequently, she argues that

If it is established that Shakespeare’s sonnets should be properly and authen- tically entitled (in a modernized text) Shakespeare’s Sonnets, some further conse- quences follow. Grammatically, for instance, the title, though plural, forms a single unit, and should be referred to in the singular. Shakespeare’s Sonnets“is”, not “are” a major non-dramatic text, just as The Two Gentlemen of Verona“is”, not “are”, an early comedy, and The Merry Wives of Windsor“is”, not “are”, a mature one. In an index or library catalogue it should appear, not as “Shakespeare, W., Sonnets”, but as

“Shakespeare, W., Shakespeare’s Sonnets”. […] The title Shakespeare’s Sonnetsmay imply, analogously, that the poems so labelled concern Shakespeare in some way, as well as being written by him. It may be this further implication, that Shakespeare is not merely responsible for the sonnets as verbal constructs, but is essentially present within them as their principal subject-matter […]. (6)

If we are to agree with Duncan Jones, “that the grammatical form of the title, in which it ap- pears that Shakespeare asserts his intimate relationship with his sonnets without the intervention of any visibly fictionalized name or persona” (7), the implications for the translation of the title of the collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets is obvious: the Romanian version should be, instead of Sonete12, de William Shakespeare, Sonetele lui Shakespeare, de William Shakespeare, strikingly re - miniscent of Voiculescu’s Ultimele sonete închipuite ale lui Shakespeare, în traducere imaginară de Vasile Voiculescu(1964).


11 An approximate facsimile of title page of Shakespeare’s Sonnets reads: SHAKE‐SPEARES SONNETS, Neuer before Imprinted, AT LONDON, By G.Eld for T.T. and are to be ſolde by William Aſpley, 1609 (Ledger, 2009).

12Gabriel Donna, Sonete(1940); Ion Frunzetti, Sonete(1964); Teodor Boşca, Sonete, (1974); Neculai Chirică şi Dan Grigorescu, Sonete şi poeme(1974); Gheorghe Tomozei, Sonete(1978, 1991, 1996, 2003); Mihaela Anghelescu Irimia, Nicolae Argintescu‐Amza, Dan Grigorescu, Opere complete [William Shakespeare] Vol. 9.

Sonete; Poeme; Venus şi Adonis; Necinstirea Lucreţiei; Phoenix şi turtureaua; Jeluirea îndrăgostitei; Pele ‐ rinul îndrăgostit (1982);Henry Marcus, Sonete(1992); Mihnea Gheorghiu, Opere, vol. II, Comedii. Poeme.

Sonete: A douăsprezecea noapte (2007); trad. colectiv, William SHAKESPEARE – Opere. Sonete, Vol. II, Aca‐

demia Română, (2012); Violeta Popa, Opere Vol. I. Sonete. Furtuna(2010, 2016); Ştefănescu, Radu, Son‐

nets. Sonete, Parallel Texts (2015).


Shakespeare’s poems

The motive behind the writing and the publication of Venus and Adonis(1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), Shakespeare’s two acclaimed poems written in the early years of his professional life, is, in Schalkwyk’s opinion, the fact that an outbreak of the plague had closed the London theatres between August 1592 and the end of 1593 and Shakespeare was in need of money, “since these two poems are his only works that he published under his own supervision and was able to profit from directly” (2015: xiv). We may consequently infer that their titles were undoubtedly decided by Shakespeare himself, but even so the situation is complicated in the case of The Rape of Lucrece, which on May 9, 1594 “was entered in the Hall Book of the Worshipful Company of Sta- tioners, the English government’s pre-publication registry. Later in the same year, John Harrison of London published the poem in quarto form, and it became highly popular with educated read- ers. The poem was listed in the Hall Bookunder the title of The Ravyshement [Ravishment] of Lucrece but was published with the title Lucrece. The Rape of Lucrecewas substituted as a title at a later date”

(Cummings, 2010).

Even if we stick to the final title version, as the poem is commonly known, its translation still poses some problems. Thus, the title Necinstirea Lucreţieiappears in three Romanian collec- tions13because seemingly Dan Grigorescu’s rendition is present in all of them.14Grigorescu made an appropriate choice which, in translating a polysemantic word such as rape(meaning, at least from early 15thcentury in Anglo-Latin “act of abducting a woman or sexually violating her or both” (cf. Harper, 2012), must have considered the meaning of the initial title of the poem for disambiguation. Indeed, in Shakespeare’s poem, Lucrece is not abducted, but actually ravished (ravishmeaning “to commit rape upon” is recorded from mid-15thcentury (cf. Harper, 2012), so Grigorescu suitably chose to translate the 2ndmeaning of rape, which is related to the theme of the poem. The morphological choice of the Romanian nominalized infinitive15is appropriate both semantically and stylistically. Two synonyms for necinstire – siluire, proposed by Dan A.

Lăzărescu16, and pângărireas my solution, come in the same morphological form and may be con- sidered in future retranslations of the poem, but, unfortunately, the length of the present article does not allow for a more detailed discussion of the semantics of the present synonymic series.

The title Venus and Adonis(1593), on the other hand, contains characters from the Greek mythology, which makes the translation very obvious, so the title Venus şi Adonisis present in all the Romanian collections.17Things are different with The Passionate Pilgrim(1598), where the 1974 Sonete şi poeme18and the 1982 Opere completeVol. 9 translate the title as Pelerinul îndrăgostit, while the 1966 William Shakespeareand the 2012 Opere, vol. II, as Pătimaşul pelerin.19According to Katherine Chiljan, the volume collecting twenty poems under the title The Passionate Pilgrimwith the name

“W. Shakespeare” on the title page is itself “a hornet’s nest of problems for academic Shake- speareans”, beginning with the fact that it was pirated and that the title choice remains unclear.


13Sonete şi poeme(1974), translated by Neculai Chirică and Dan Grigorescu, Opere complete Vol. 9 (1982), translated by Mihaela Anghelescu Irimia, Nicolae Argintescu‐Amza, Dan Grigorescu, and William SHAKE‐

SPEARE – Opere. Sonete, Vol. II, Academia Română, (2012).

14Two of the collections do not state the name of the translator for each work separately.

15“Infinitivul lung” in Romanian is a form preserved from the Latin infinitive. It adds the suffix –reto the bare infinitive form of the verb and can behave either as a verbal or a deverbal noun. The distinction be‐

tween these two classes of long infinitives is relevant for the discussion of the translation of A Lover’s Com‐

plaintand will be dealt with further on.



17All the volumes enumerated above containing Shakespeare’s sonnets and poems include the poem under this title.

18In the Biblioteca pentru toți series.

19 In both volumes, the poem is translated by George Ciorănescu.


Why it was called The Passionate Pilgrimis unknown. It has been suggested that the title was pu - blisher William Jaggard’s attempt to fulfill public demand for Shakespeare’s “sugar’d sonnets cir- culated among his private friends” that Francis Meres had recently mentioned in Palladis Tamia, or Wit’s Treasury, also published in 1598 (2012: 74).

However, leaving these unanswered questions aside, the challenge for the title translation is obviously the premodifier passionatewhich beginning with early 15thcentury meant “angry; emo- tional”20, and whose specific sense of “amorous” is significantly attested in the 1580s (cf. Harper, 2012). The adjective passionateis derived from the noun passionby suffixation with –ate. The two Romanian versions propose two different words with loosely synonymous senses: îndrăgostitand pătimaş, of which the former was obviously selected to translate the specific sense of “amorous”.

The Romanian pasionatis almost identical to the English passionate. It is the participle of the verb a pasionaand when describing people, it means “1. Care pune pasiune în tot ceea ce face, care acţionează cu pasiune; fervent, entuziast, inimos. 2. Stăpânit, dominat de pasiuni sau de patimi”

(dexonline.ro). One of its synonyms, namely pătimaş, is the solution proposed by Ciorănescu. It is an adjective formed from the noun patimă+ -aş21with two semantic directions, “1. Cuprins, stăpânit de o patimă, rob al unei pasiuni; Care exprimă, trădează patimă; determinat de patimă;

pasiona” and “2. (Înv. şi reg.) Bolnav, suferind, chinuit, nefericit, nenorocit, nesănătos, schingiuit, torturat” (cf. dexonline.ro). Of the second group, at least chinuit, schingiuitand torturatare reminis- cent of the “passions of Christ” (in Romanian, patimile lui Isus), exactly like the English passion.22 In my view, the morphologic and semantic relation between passionateand pătimaşexplained above makes the latter a subtler, finer solution for the Romanian rendition. For similar reasons, împătimit, another adjectival participle from the same family used as a premodifier for pelerinmay be con- sidered as a translation option (Împătimitul pelerin).

Besides coming up with two different lexical solutions that translate the noun phrase in the title, the translators opted for different NP word orders: H + postmodifier (Grigorescu) and pre- modifier + H (Ciorănescu). In fact, the typical NP word order in Romanian is the mirror image of the English NP, because attributive adjectives normally occur as postmodifiers and definite articles are attached to the end of the noun as enclitics ([pelerinnoun][uldef art] [îndrăgostitadj.).

Alternatively, attributive adjectives can be placed in front of the head noun and, if the definite article is also present, the adjective takes the article instead of the noun, at the same time becoming more emphatic ([pătimaşadj][uldef art] [pelerinnoun]), this being yet another reason in support of Ciorănescu’s solution.

Phoenix and the Turtle (1601) was translated into Romanian by Dan Grigorescu in 1982 as Phoenix şi turtureauaand as Phoenix şi turturicain 2012.23The words turtureaand turturicăare explained either as internal diminutives from turtură(dexonline.ro) or turturicăas the diminutive of turturea.

In Romanian, all three nouns are feminine, and their masculine counterpart is turturel, which was actually used in Lucia Verona’s more recent rendition (2015) Phoenix şi Turturelul. In English, the masculine is the generic gender for both phoenix and turtle as birds, while in Romanian the mythological bird is commonly referred to in the NP Pasărea Phoenix, which turns the Greek proper name Phoenixinto a feminine in agreement with the gender of the head noun. Both trans- lators decided to omit the head of the NP by deleting the noun pasăreaand turn it into a proper

20From Medieval Latin passionatus“affected with passion” (cf. Harper, 2012).

21The Romanian –așis a polysemantic suffix that can indicate the agent (cosaș, luntraș, poștaș), form a diminutive (copilaș, fluturaș, îngeraș) or an adjective (drăgălaş, mărginaş, nărăvaş, pătimaș, pizmaş).

22In “the late 12thc., passionmeant ‘sufferings of Christ on the Cross’. Sense extended to sufferings of mar‐

tyrs, and suffering generally, by early 13thc.; meaning ‘strong emotion, desire’ is attested from late 14c.

Sense of ‘sexual love’ first attested 1580s; that of ‘strong liking, enthusiasm, predilection’ is from 1630s”

(cf. Harper, 2012).

23 Vol. 9. Sonete; Poeme; Venus şi Adonis; Necinstirea Lucreţiei; Phoenix şi turtureaua; Jeluirea îndrăgostitei;

Pelerinul îndrăgostit (1982); William SHAKESPEARE – Opere. Sonete, Vol II, Academia Română, (2012).


noun, as in English. These observations point to the gender differences as the main issue the two translators had to face when translating this title, which is additionally complicated by the fact that Shakespeare himself resorts to some “innovations” regarding gender in the title nouns. Thus, as Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine note, “[i]n Shakespeare’s poem, the phoenix is female and the turtle (that is, a turtledove) is male” (2006), which establishes Verona’s title as the appro- priate choice. Verona, on the other hand, might have also considered preserving the customary locution Pasărea Phoenixdue to its clearer idiomatical and cultural connotations in Romanian.

The title of A Lover’s Complaint(1609) is a NP with the structure determiner + premodifier + H, where the determiner is the indefinite article a, the premodifier is the noun loverin the pos- sessive case, and the head is the noun complaint. Semantically, the agent noun loverdesignates “one who is enamored, person in love”, and at the beginning of the 13thcentury it was no longer marked for gender (i.e. the difference between Old English lufendfor male lovers and lufestrefor women was no longer made) (Harper, 2012). Towards the end of the 14thcentury, complaint, a de- verbal noun, meant “lamentation, grief ”, from Old French noun use of fem. past participle of complaindre(cf. Harper, 2012), with a gender implication that was probably still perceived by the speakers of that time. The fact that in Romanian gender is normally marked morphologically on nouns means that, unlike in English, the translator had to decide the gender of loverright in the title, but the content and characters of the poem make it clear enough that the lover is female.

Consequently, the two Romanian renditions I could find contain the feminine noun îndrăgostită, in both instances in association with the noun jeluire: Jeluirea îndrăgostitei (Chirică/Grigorescu, 1974) and Jeluirea unei îndrăgostite(Dan Grigorescu, 2012).

The first noun is, in fact the more difficult for a translator. As the title suggests, the source text itself is a complaint poem, a genre popular in Shakespeare’s time, in which a woman is com- plaining to an old man about having yielded to a seducer. The genre itself is not consistently present in the cultured Romanian literature but, especially in folk music and poetry the pieces that deal with unrequited love, the loved ones’ departure, loss, death and the like are classified as cânteceand poezii de jale. The pair a jeli/a jelui(verb) – jale(noun) has generated, on the one hand, the nouns jelireand jeluireby adding –reto the bare infinitive jeli/jeluiand, on the other, the noun jelaniefrom the jale+ the suffix –anie. All three are closely related semantically, but, unlike the third, the first two can be used both as deverbal nouns (in association with a noun in the genitive showing possession) and as verbal nouns (in association with a noun in the dative showing the destination of the action of the verb). The fact that in Romanian the nouns in the dative and genitive are identical in form leads to the ambiguity of the NP jeluirea îndrăgostitei, where it is un- clear whether the structure is a deverbal noun in a subjective genitival structure (the subject per- formed an action, as in somebody’s complaint, meaning ‘somebody complained of something’) or a verbal noun in a verb – object relation.24For these reasons, jelanie, which carries no verbal impli- cations and does not generate ambiguity, would be a better choice, yet not as good as tânguire.

The latter, although a long infinitive as well, is formed from the intransitive verb a se tânguiand its intransitivity excludes the relation mentioned above for jelire/jeluire.

Shakespeare’s Plays

Shakespeare’s histories and tragedies have eponymous titles, many of them also containing parenthetical information that refer directly to the character’s name, such as Pericles,Prince of Tyre;

Cymbeline, King of Britain;The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice;The Tragedy of Timon of Athens. Since almost all the title characters are famous historical in- dividuals (with the exception of Romeo and Juliet) or at least make-believe nobles (King Lear, Macbeth, Othello), the plays are identified by the name of their protagonists and genre: The Life of King Henry the Fifth, The Life of King Henry the Eighth, The Life and Death of King John. The presence ILEANA OANA MACARI 17

24Exactly like the English gerund in Writing letters is pleasant.



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Biblia 1688, Pars XXII, Pseudo-Josephus Flavius, în seria Monumenta linguae Dacoromanorum, Editura Universităţii “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi, 2013 (autor;

Aspecte controversate ale paronimiei, în „Analele ştiinţifice ale Universităţii «Alexandru Ioan Cuza» din Iaşi”, secţiunea III e, Lingvistică, tomul LII, 2006,

Luminiţa Hoarţă Cărăuşu, Probleme de morfologie a limbii române, Editura Cermi, Iaşi, 2001, 180 p., în „Analele ştiinţifice ale Universităţii «Alexandru Ioan Cuza»