Translation in a Postcolonial Context : Early Irish Literature in English Translation 9781900650168

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Translation in a Postcolonial Context : Early Irish Literature in English Translation
 9781900650168

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Title......Page 2
Copyright......Page 3
Dedication......Page 4
Contents......Page 6
Acknowledgments......Page 11
A Note on Early Irish Literature......Page 13
Introduction......Page 16
Chapter 1: The Metonymics of Translation......Page 42
Chapter 2: The Politics of Translating Táin Bó Cúailnge into English......Page 63
Chapter 3: Formal Strategies for Integrating Irish Hero Tales into Canons of European Literature......Page 91
Chapter 4: The Two Traditions of Translating Early Irish Literature......Page 123
Chapter 5: On Translating a Dead Language......Page 147
Chapter 6: On Cú Chulainn's Attributes Translating Culture in a Postcolonial Context......Page 164
Chapter 7: Translating the Humour in Early Irish Hero Tales......Page 192
Chapter 8: The Names of the Hound......Page 223
Chapter 9: The Accuracy of the Philologist......Page 249
Chapter 10: Metametonymics......Page 279
Appendices......Page 302
Works Cited......Page 310
Index......Page 330

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Translation in a Postcolonial Context Early Irish Literature in English Translation

Maria Tymoczko

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First published 1999 by St Jerome Publishing Published 2014 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY, 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business Copyright © Maria Tymoczko 1999 Notices Knowledge and best practice in this field are constantly changing. As new research and experience broaden our understanding, changes in research methods, professional practices, or medical treatment may become necessary. Practitioners and researchers must always rely on their own experience and knowledge in evaluating and using any information, methods, compounds, or experiments described herein. In using such information or methods they should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, including parties for whom they have a professional responsibility. To the fullest extent of the law, neither the Publisher nor the authors, contributors, or editors, assume any liability for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in the material herein. Cover design by Steve Fieldhouse, Oldham, UK Cover illustration: A bronze statue of the legendary Irish hero Cuchulainn, by the Irish sculptor Oliver Sheppard. The statue stands in the public office of the General Post Office in Dublin, as a memorial to the participants of the 1916 Rising. It was unveiled on Easter Sunday, 21 April 1935. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: 9781900650168 (pbk)

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For my family whose acts of translation across the barriers of space, language, class, and gender made this book possible

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Page Intentionally Left Blank

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Contents Acknowledgments

10

A Note on Early Irish Literature

12

Introduction

15

The importance of translation data and translation theory for investigations of the colonization and decolonization of Irish culture is outlined, as well as the value of Irish examples of translation for interrogating current positions in translation theory.

Chapter 1: The Metonymics of Translation

41

All literary texts evoke metonymically the larger literary and cultural contexts from which they emerge. Issues raised by the translation of texts from postcolonial cultures set in high relief the metonymics of translation, thus challenging theoretical approaches to translation based on binary classifications (e.g. literal/free; domesticating/foreignizing; formal-equivalence/dynamic-equivalence; adequate/acceptable; fluent/ resistant). Because dominant-culture audiences are unfamiliar with the culture, literary traditions, and language of texts of colonized peoples, translators of such texts are in the paradoxical position of “telling a new story”, even as they rewrite a source text. Constructing texts that metonymically stand for the literature and culture of such marginalized peoples, inevitably privileging certain metonymies over others, translators create images of their source cultures in a sensitive process having important ideological implications to be followed out in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 2: The Politics of Translating Táin Bó Cúailnge into English

62

Irish cultural nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries attempted to create new images of Irish culture that would counter English stereotypes and serve Irish nationalist purposes. The translation record − including the absence of translation − of Táin Bó Cúailnge, the centrepiece of Ireland’s heritage of medieval heroic literature, illustrates the impact of ideology on translation and the ways in which translation serves cultural agendas. In English translations the adaptation of the Ulster Cycle to a biographical framework, representing Cú Chulainn as an ideal of militant Irish heroism, and the focus on the Fer Diad episode of Táin Bó Cúailnge, in which violence toward one’s

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friend and brother becomes a necessary price of fulfilling group loyalties, together set a trajectory leading to Easter 1916, as well as later violence in the North.

Chapter 3: Formal Strategies for Integrating Irish Hero Tales into Canons of European Literature

90

In part because early Celtic forms and genres are so different from those of modern European literatures, the translation of Celtic literature has generated some of the most intense controversies about translation in European letters. A series of generic codes for the representation of early Irish heroic narrative is examined (including epic, folktale, and a post-Joycean poetics), illustrating that reception of a text from a colonized culture involves a dialectic between assimilation to and alteration of the standards of the receiving culture. Epigonic representations of Irish form in the translations of early Irish literature complement the subversive ideological manipulations of the texts discussed in the previous chapter. The epistemology of translation is set in high relief by the Irish examples, and translation emerges as a mode of discovery, parallel rather than subordinate to learned investigations.

Chapter 4: The Two Traditions of Translating Early Irish Literature

122

Translated literature constitutes a system within any given literary polysystem. English translations of early Irish literature form a seemingly radically polarized system, consisting of popular literary translations and scholarly translations, the former monuments of style taking their place among the literary works of twentieth-century Ireland, the latter almost unreadable. This differentiated system of translation illustrates the necessity of close historical analysis in descriptive studies of translation and the unworkability of a facile historical determinism in translation studies. In the case of the English translations of Irish literature, historical and political circumstances related to Ireland’s colonial history resulted in a bipolar field of translations that serve the ideological context in complementary ways. The translation traditions are symbiotic, each made possible only by the existence of the other. The chapter concludes with an exploration of the implications of this translation system for approaches to translation theory and practice based on binary typologies.

Chapter 5: On Translating a Dead Language

146

Dead languages like Old Irish represent a limiting case for the construction of a comprehensive theory of translation. Because no living

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linguistic environment remains, ascertaining the meaning of texts in a dead language is problematic, raising in a radical fashion the question of indeterminacy of translation. In such texts meaning is established with reference to other languages, through translation itself, revealing translation again to be an epistemological process where translation precedes understanding rather than the inverse as is generally theorized. Nonetheless, it is argued that translation is no more indeterminate than other forms of knowledge, including the scientific disciplines. The chapter examines the imperialistic presuppositions of Quine’s famous indeterminacy argument, showing that seemingly abstract considerations of the translatability of early Irish literature into English shed light on cultural transfer from subaltern groups and colonized cultures as a whole.

Chapter 6: On Cú Chulainn’s Attributes Translating Culture in a Postcolonial Context

163

Because language and culture are intertwined, linguistic translation brings with it cultural translation. At the same time, cultural assertion is part of the dynamic of decolonization. Using theoretical perspectives on culture offered by Bourdieu and focusing on several “signature concepts” of Irish culture, this chapter argues that the representation of culture − particularly the culture of a colonized people − is never innocent. Three translation strategies are contrasted as responses to the alterity represented by Irish culture − an assimilationist strategy, a dialectical strategy, and an ostensive strategy − and compared with stages in the decolonization of an oppressed people. This chapter explores paradoxes of constructing a national culture, projecting a timetable for change in nations like Ireland that are emerging from colonization and cultural imperialism.

Chapter 7: Translating the Humour in Early Irish Hero Tales

191

The comic is one of the few broadly integrated patterns of culture − incorporating language, ideology, social organization, and material culture, among others − discussed by translators, and it is generally acknowledged that comic texts are notoriously difficult to translate. The humorous aspects of early Irish literature delight contemporary readers but they contributed to the reception problems of this literature in English in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This chapter investigates the translation of complex cultural patterns, of which humour stands as a prime example. Drawing on Kuhn’s concept of scientific paradigms, the argument proposes that divergence of cultural paradigms can block perception of cultural paradigms in texts

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from radically different cultures, and that paradigm shifts in the receiving culture are associated with shifts in textual reception. Factors causing interference with the translation of early Irish humorous tales are explored, including nationalistic debates about humour and the nationalist rejection of the stage Irishman. Such interference led to the suppression of humour in translations of early Irish texts; more recent shifts in comic paradigms have made those same comic elements accessible once again in translation. The reception of the humour in early Irish tales stands as an example of the challenges to communicating the central cultural paradigms of colonized peoples.

Chapter 8: The Names of the Hound

222

Proper names are essential linguistic markers that individuate persons and places, and naming practices are central to cultural formations as well, differentiating the identity of peoples. Naive translators often see names as resting places where no translation is needed, but in fact names are central textual elements to be translated and the paradoxes of translating phonological, semantic, and semiotic aspects of Irish proper names, including the name Cú Chulainn, illuminate the very essence of naming. The translation of such names, prima facie the least problematic area of translation, in turn takes us deep into the heart of issues having to do with knowledge, cultural power and prestige, assertion of identity and self-determination, and the legacy of colonialism in the modern world.

Chapter 9: The Accuracy of the Philologist

248

Philological translations take a positivist attitude toward translation: what can be translated can be translated clearly, what cannot be translated clearly must be consigned to silence. But difficulty, openness, and ambiguity are at the heart of literary language. Under the banner of accuracy, using the tools of clarity and silence, philological translations replace literary texts with non-literary texts, thereby deforming the representation of much of world literature. Examples from the translation history of early Irish literature show how these philological norms of translation, continuing to the present, reenact cultural imperialism on postcolonial peoples.

Chapter 10: Metametonymics

278

Translation has been modelled primarily as a process of selection and substitution, a metaphoric process; as a consequence, it has been devalued as a fairly mechanical activity. Roman Jakobson’s distinction

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between the metaphoric and the metonymic offers a point of departure for valorizing the metonymic aspects of translation − the creation of connections, contiguities, and contextures in and through translation. A metonymic approach to translation is key to seeing the translation of early Irish literature into English as one chapter of the history of the colonization and decolonization of Ireland. The case studies of the translation of early Irish literature into English illustrate how translation in a postcolonial context challenges some of the basic theoretical principles about translation.

Appendices

301

Abbreviations

309

Works Cited

309

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Acknowledgments Many friends, colleagues, and students have contributed in one way or another to the shaping of this book. I would like to give acknowledgments and thanks to Warren Anderson, Mona Baker, Susan Bassnett, Annie Brisset, Timothy Boyd, David Clark, Joseph Donohue, James Dunn, Daniela Fargione, Elise Feeley, Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, Patrick Ford, Edwin Gentzler, Susan Gillespie, Donald Gjertson, Jon Karl Helgason, Theo Hermans, Rosemary Horowitz, Thomas Kinsella, Murray Kiteley, Sarah Lawall, James Marino, the late Liam Miller, William Moebius, Shannon Pandolfi, Virginia Rohan, Marilyn Gaddis Rose, Taissia Rumynina, Mahasweta Sengupta, Norman Simms, Gideon Toury, and the late Thomas Tymoczko. For the forbearance, encouragement, sustenance, and affection of my family I am also grateful. Preliminary versions of several of the chapters of this book appeared in journals. “The Metonymics of Translation” was first published in Comparative Literature (1995); an early version of chapter 2 appeared as “Translating the Old Irish Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge: Political Aspects” in Pacific Quarterly Moana (1983) of Outrigger Publishers; and a preliminary form of chapter 3 appeared under the title of “Strategies for Integrating Irish Epic into European Literature” in Dispositio (1982), published by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. Chapter 4 is based on “Two English Traditions of Translating Early Irish Literature” which was published in Target (1991); a preliminary version of the argument in chapter 5 was published in Babel (1984) as “Translating Old Irish: A Perspective on Translation Theory”; and the material in chapter 7 first appeared as “Translating the Humour in Early Irish Hero Tales: A Polysystems Approach” in New Comparison (1986-87). Previously published material is here reprinted by permission. The research behind this book was supported by a number of grants. A grant from the Translations Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency of the United States of America, supported my translations published as Two Death Tales from the Ulster Cycle: “The Death of CuRoi” and “The Death of CuChulainn” (1981), which afforded me the opportunity of talking about translation with many people and, ultimately, of working on the history and theory of translation as well. In addition, I received travel grants from the University of Massachusetts which made the work possible; in conjunction with the latter, I would like to give acknowledgments to Bruce McCandless and Samuel Conti for their kind assistance. I am grateful to Thomas Kinsella for permission to publish excerpts from his translations in The Táin and to the Governing Board of the School of Celtic

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Studies of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies for permission to quote from the works of Cecile O’Rahilly, Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster and Táin Bó Cúailnge: Recension I. A special tribute is due to the late André Lefevere. André was essential to the development of this study through a continuing dialogue about translation, literature, and life for almost two decades.

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A Note on Early Irish Literature Irish language and literature are generally divided into three major periods: the Old Irish period, from the beginning of the eighth to the middle of the ninth century; the Middle Irish period from the mid-ninth through the twelfth century; and the Modern Irish period thereafter. Early Irish literature (comprising Old Irish, Middle Irish, and even some early Modern Irish texts) is a large and varied body of texts, in part because Ireland had the first secular literate class of medieval Europe. Thus, the vernacular literature was written down early and preserved for posterity in a state that is relatively lightly mediated by adaptation to Christianity.1 Critical material on early Irish literature for the general reader is not abundant, but The Irish Literary Tradition (1992), by J. E. Caerwyn Williams and Patrick K. Ford, provides an overview of the topic with excellent documentation. Suggestions for further reading will also be found in the standard bibliographies by R. I. Best (1913, 1942) and Rolf Baumgarten (1986), which are listed in the Works Cited. I presuppose no knowledge of early Irish literature in what follows; as characters, tales, texts, and critical perspectives are introduced, appropriate explanations or plot summaries are provided. In general references to early Irish stories, I have cited the collection of translations in Ancient Irish Tales ([1936] 1969), the convenient anthology of early translations gathered and edited by T. P. Cross and C. H. Slover, as well as the collection of translations by Thomas Kinsella in his volume entitled The Táin (1969); discussions of specific translations, however, refer to the original publications. Modern scholars usually divide early Irish narrative into four major cycles. The Mythological Cycle is comprised of tales related to the pre-Christian Irish deities; the stories are old, but the texts are relatively recent, generally from the late Middle Irish or early Modern Irish period. The Ulster Cycle includes heroic tales about the heroes of Ulster, including their conflicts related to dominance and succession, as well as their tribal struggles with other groups within Ireland. This cycle is large − more than fifty stories have survived in various degrees of fullness − and it is early; the texts are principally from the Old Irish and Middle Irish periods, though a number of the stories have survived in Irish and Scottish oral literature to the present. The narratives of the Ulster Cycle are as a group the most archaic texts of the tradition: they present customs and a material culture that are reminiscent of the lifeways of the Gauls; the preChristian gods play active roles in the stories, similar to the roles of the Greek deities in Homeric epic; and the heroes follow an archaic and extreme heroic

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A Note on Early Irish Literature

13

code. The third cycle, the Finn Cycle, has pre-Christian mythological roots yet was the most prestigious and most popular narrative cycle up through the twentieth century in both Irish and Scottish folk narrative; the texts of this cycle are the most varied of any of the Irish narrative cycles, though there are few that are as old as those of the earliest versions of the Ulster Cycle stories. A fourth set of tales of varied antiquity deals with the legendary and historical kings of Ireland, ranging from stories that are primarily mythological in configuration, to accounts of fully historical events. In addition to these four narrative cycles there are tales of voyages to and adventures in the pre-Christian otherworld, Christian texts including saints lives, and various sorts of learned materials including laws, genealogies, placelore, medical tracts, and so forth. A large, varied, and often stunningly beautiful body of poetry has also survived. Most of the examples in the following chapters will be drawn from translations of the stories of the Ulster Cycle, of which the longest tale is Táin Bó Cúailnge, ‘The Cattle Raid of Cúailnge’, but translations of other texts will also be considered. Titles of the texts are given first in Irish, with the most common English translation following; both forms are indexed. Unless otherwise noted, all translations of Irish words are taken from the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of the Irish Language, Compact Edition, and Patrick S. Dinneen’s Foclóir Gaedhilge agus Béarla, An Irish-English Dictionary. Line references to the texts of Táin Bó Cúailnge refer to the standard editions of Cecile O’Rahilly, unless otherwise noted. Irish orthography, including diacritical marks, is notoriously variable, as will be apparent in the spellings of proper names in quotations below of both the early Irish texts and their translations. Some reasons for the variation in orthography are discussed in chapter 8. This is an inescapable feature of the subject matter, which requires flexibility on the part of the reader accustomed to contemporary standards of English, with its relatively uniform and fixed spelling, particularly as regards names and titles. A word on terminology: what is meant by Irish and English in this book? This is the sort of question that might be asked about almost any colonial or postcolonial culture, and it is rarely easy to answer. The terms Irish and English (or Anglo-) are contested terms in Ireland because language, culture, and the very concept of nation are themselves contested, as they are in most nations emerging from colonialism. In Ireland in the past twelve hundred years, culture has been shaped by − and literature spoken and written in − many languages: Irish, of course, Latin, Old Norse, Old French, Middle Welsh, and English, not to mention the languages of more recent immigrants. As with so many cultures that have been colonized, literature and culture form a palimpsest.

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14

Translation in a Postcolonial Context

Each language in a culture such as that of Ireland generally brings with it some aspects of a literary system − generic convention and metre, for example − but neither language nor literary system is the sole determinant of whether a literary piece is part of a national literature. When we speak of Irish are we speaking of nationality or of language? How are these distinctions to be made? Like most cultures that have been colonized, Irish (in the national sense of the word) culture is and has been a divided culture − divided by language, sectarian concerns, politics. Irish (in the national sense) literature is also a divided literature − divided as any literature is by ideological and sectarian loyalties, but, more importantly, divided linguistically. In modern times the linguistic divide in literature has been primarily between literature in Irish and literature in English. Throughout the following discussions I assume an awareness of Ireland’s divided literary tradition which involves making the distinction between an Irish literature (in the national sense) which originated in and was recorded in Irish (in the linguistic sense), and an Irish literature (in the national sense) which originated in and was recorded in English.2 Irish (in the national sense) literature in the Irish language naturally grows out of the Irish (in the linguistic sense) literary system, just as Irish (in the national sense) literature in English grows out of the English (in the linguistic sense) literary system. The former is frequently referred to as Gaelic in the critical literature; but as I am here dealing primarily with early Irish literature and referring primarily to texts in Old Irish and Middle Irish, Gaelic will not do, because that is a term for Modern Irish (not to mention Scottish Gaelic). Thus, of necessity, here I am using the term Irish as the linguistic referent for literature in the various stages of the Irish language, and Anglo-Irish for Irish (in the national sense) literary texts and traditions in the English language. In a similar way, Roger McHugh and Maurice Harmon (1982:1-2) consider Anglo-Irish literature to be “the indigenous literature of Ireland in English”; like American literature, it is a modern literature in English which, “after passing through a colonial phase, acquired a distinctive national quality” and came to command international recognition. The term Anglo-Irish as it is used here fits well with that definition and is not to be construed as in any way pejorative or as carrying with it invidious ideological or sectarian connotations.3 Some linguistic overlapping remains (between Irish in a linguistic sense and Irish in a national sense), but context should make the meaning clear.

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Introduction A nation’s history is made for it by circumstances and the irresistible progress of events; but their legends, they make for themselves ... The legends represent the imagination of the country; they are that kind of history which a nation desires to possess. Standish O’Grady, History of Ireland: The Heroic Period

“All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, observes Tolstoy at the beginning of Anna Karenina. Curiously, analyses of culture and theories of those analyses have been more inclined to differentiate between the histories of (so to speak) happy nations on the one hand and to generalize and lump together the histories of unhappy ones. This is part of the effect of power and hegemony, for most scholars writing in Western languages work within such implicit frameworks of knowledge. Postcolonial theory has opened useful perspectives on the histories, social structures, economies, and literatures of postcolonial nations, but as an approach it too is still in its infancy, inclined to subsume difference between postcolonial peoples under broad generalizations about cultural oppression that do not necessarily hold for all nations that have been colonized or even all types of colonization. This is a study of literature and politics in Ireland, of Ireland’s progress from colonization toward liberation, as revealed in the history of the translation of Ireland’s medieval literary heritage into English, that attempts to make such differentiations and, thus, help to nuance the discourses about postcolonial nations. Why translation? Where different peoples come together − in friendship or in enmity, in dominance or in resistance − they construct their interactions and their images of each other to a large extent through discursive practices. In the stories they tell of themselves and the others, in their rituals of exchange, and in daily dealings, discourse is central to constituing the boundary between groups and to regulating their relations. Oppression and enslavement, rebellion and revolution, all have discursive components. Inevitably, when people and nations speak different languages, the discursive practices at the heart of their interactions must turn on translation. This volume investigates the translation of early Irish literary texts as one of the discursive practices that contributed to freeing Ireland from colonialism, a discursive practice that took its place among other discursive practices that shaped Ireland’s resistance to England and led eventually to political action and physical confrontation. The American Revolution – a prototype of a liberation movement which had at its centre treatises and tracts, proclamations and declarations, informing and grounding the

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Translation in a Postcolonial Context

physical deeds that followed – offered models for many of the discursive modes associated with the Irish progress to decolonization, but it was the Irish themselves who found ways to use the translation of their native cultural heritage in the struggle for independence. Because of its centrality to human interaction, many intellectual disciplines have converged on translation as a central locus of inquiry, providing a fund of theoretical and practical studies that the present work draws upon. In a period when, as Wittgenstein said, “alle Philosophie ist ‘Sprachkritik’”,4 philosophy naturally has taken up questions of interlingual equivalence and transfer. Similarly, modern linguistics addresses issues pertinent to translation, and the process of translation is a mainspring behind the concepts of transformational grammar. In anthropology and ethnography scholars have used translation as a metaphor or analogue for the endeavours and procedures of their fields,5 and translation has been used as a way of figuring the relations between cultures, in particular the encounter with alterity, the mechanisms of imperialism, and the special conditions of the postmodern, globalized world.6 In literary study the phenomena of intercultural exchange are fundamental, and these exchanges have been increasingly realized in terms of translation. Scholars recognize that translation has been a primary fact of literary life and literary development (e.g. Lambert 1989; Bassnett 1993; and Even-Zohar 1990). Moreover, as the world gets smaller, more and more of what is read as literature is literature-in-translation, more and more literature is produced in an international context. Thus, writers working in English, for example, take Italian or Latin-American prose writers as their models − using Italo Calvino and Umberto Eco in versions produced by William Weaver, or Gabriel García Márquez as rendered by Gregory Rabassa − writers who have in turn been influenced by American and English writers, themselves frequently consumed in translation as well. Salman Rushdie, defining his own literary “family tree”, offers a case in point: We are inescapably international writers at a time when the novel has never been a more international form (a writer like Borges speaks of the influence of Robert Louis Stevenson on his work; Heinrich Böll acknowledges the influence of Irish literature; cross-pollination is everywhere); and it is perhaps one of the more pleasant freedoms of the literary migrant to be able to choose his parents. My own − selected half consciously, half not − include Gogol, Cervantes, Kafka, Melville, Machado de Assis; a polyglot family tree, against which I measure myself, and to which I would be honoured to belong. (1991:20-21)

Rushdie’s literary family tree is made possible by translation.

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Introduction

17

The relationship between translation and various cultural phenomena has also been a leitmotif of translation theory in the past few decades. George Steiner (1992:ch. 1), for example, lays out continuities between translation and interpretation, artistic performance, reading, communicative acts, and, even, understanding. Many have argued that the continuities between translation and “original” literary composition overshadow the differences, while still others have written about the kinship between translation and activities even further afield, such as psychotherapy.7 This is part of the cultural turn of translation studies:8 on the one hand there has been an increased understanding of the cultural aspects of all writing, including translation, and on the other hand a greater awareness of the role of translation in broad areas of human culture. In a shrinking world, translation is a lifeline. A necessity of daily life, permeating the ordinary and extraordinary business of commerce and diplomacy, science and technology, translation also has specific pragmatic, political, and ideological dimensions. All these studies have made possible a postcolonial approach to translation and the specific investigations undertaken in this work. Other than radical isolationism, the alternative to translation is the narrowing of cultural formation to a few “metropolitan” or “world” languages; such a choice involves inestimable loss of human experiences and perspectives, and throughout the world there are movements resisting the pressure to abandon minority languages. The literary career of Ngugi wa Thiong’o is illustrative: after writing several internationally acclaimed novels in English, he shifted to writing in his native language, Gikuyu, preferring to be translated into metropolitan languages rather than write in a language that could not be understood by the people he writes about. For Ngugi and others who make similar decisions, including the Irish poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, for example, the use of a minority-culture language is a matter of cultural power: of resistance to foreign dominance and foreign cultural assertion. The assertion of a national voice by a writer such as Ngugi or Ní Dhomhnaill brings with it the demand that the reader − even the reader from a dominant culture − undertake or depend upon translation. 9 Thus, no matter what a writer’s language, the interface with the world is made through translation. Increasingly it has been recognized that as it facilitates the growth of cultural contact and a movement to one world, translation is paradoxically the means by which difference is perceived, preserved, projected, and proscribed. Translation stands as one of the most significant means by which one culture represents another. If nations are “imagined communities”, inevitably representations of nations will shift as they are constructed through translation by different groups with their own senses of identity, groups both internal and

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18

Translation in a Postcolonial Context

external to a nation.10 In turn identities themselves depend on a perception of difference for their articulation,11 difference often established by translations. Thus, the process of translation is powerful and it is not innocent. Along with such narrative genres as history, fiction, and travel literature, and such scholarly productions as editions, anthologies, and literary criticism, translations form images of whole cultures and peoples, as well as of individual authors or texts, images that in turn come to function as reality. When such representations are done for a people themselves, they constitute a means of inventing tradition, inventing the nation, and inventing the self. Although cultural difference can be effaced, erased, or obliterated in translation, various translation strategies have emerged to call attention to, underscore, and insist upon differences in values, in literature, in culture, and in language.12 For these several reasons the investigation of translations is an essential aspect of the investigation of culture, revealing through comparison with the source texts valuable information about both the source culture and the receiving culture, while a longitudinal study of a tradition of translations becomes a means of charting the shifting relations between two cultures. Not surprisingly, then, translation studies is a fundamental aspect of cultural studies, and it is particularly instructive for an understanding of the relations between colonial powers and their colonies, such as those between England and Ireland. As Richard Jacquemond (1992:148) illustrates with respect to French and Arabic cultures, there is a continuous interaction between colonial representations of a culture and the linguistic, cultural, and political economy of translation from that culture into the colonizer’s language. Because Ireland was England’s first colony, conquered before the New World was discovered, colonized at a period when dominance took the form of annexation and incorporation, the historical relations between Ireland and England have taken somewhat different forms from those between England and the Commonwealth nations.13 The differences in the forms of oppression − such as the legal conquests of the Tudor period and the Act of Union of 1800 − do not obliterate the similarities in the experience of colonialism in Ireland and those of more recent colonies. In Ireland, for example, the English government used policies of plantation and spoke of colonists; Ireland experienced dispossession and genocide, economic oppression and political manipulation. In the Great Famine of 1845-50 more than two million people died or emigrated (more than a quarter of the population), all while food was being exported from Ireland to England. The Irish have been subject to racism, ridicule, degradation. Few nations have experienced more cultural suppression and estrangement than Ireland under English colonialism, from the Statutes of Kilkenny of 1366

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Introduction

19

that banned the use of Irish language and customs by English colonists, to the Penal Laws of the seventeenth century which were intended to keep the Catholic majority “in a state of permanent subjection” (Moody and Martin 1987:218), not to mention the stereotyping of Irish people, literature, and culture in the nineteenth century. The cultural pressures of colonialism in Ireland were also responsible, to a large extent, for the loss of Irish as the dominant language of the nation.14 In the course of centuries of conquest and subjection, Ireland’s sovereignty, wealth, and land were handed over to the English conquerors. Translation as a colonialist phenomenon from the Tudor period onward took the tangible and physical forms of transposition, transportation, transmission, and transference: the transposition of government, power, and law from Irish control and Irish standards to English-language traditions and English control; the transportation of Irish people during clearances and famines; the transference of land from Irish landholders to English ones; and the transmission of cultural and educational content from Irish-language centres to English-language centres. At the same time that Ireland’s material substance was shifted to the benefit of England; thus, much of Ireland’s culture was transmuted to English standards as well, resulting in the ascendancy of English law, English decorum, English mores, and English language and literature. English names were imposed on the landscape and even, to a large extent, on the Irish people themselves. Translation during these centuries was a tangible, physical oppression, and it was accompanied by various other forms of dispossession, including the erasure of Ireland’s history and Ireland’s humanity that can be traced to the time of Spenser and earlier. Frantz Fanon, writing about the erosion of national culture under colonialism, observes that “colonialism is not simply content to impose its rule upon the present and the future of a dominated country .... By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it” ([1961] 1966:170, cf. 190ff.). These erasures are no accident, for, as Amilcar Cabral observes, “domination ... can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the people concerned ... In fact, to take up arms to dominate a people is, above all, to take up arms to destroy, or at least to neutralize, to paralyze, its cultural life. For, with a strong indigenous cultural life, foreign domination cannot be sure of its perpetuation” ([1973] 1994:53). These compulsions are clearly apparent in the cultural relations between England and Ireland. The treatment of the Irish and of Irish culture in the early centuries of English rule in Ireland, therefore, shows similarities to the findings of other postcolonial studies of translation. Setting the groundwork for arguments that

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undergird this type of inquiry, Edward Said (1978) has demonstrated the oppressive ideological premises and consequences of the activity of Orientalists, including those of the seemingly objective scholarly work of philologists. Yet Said leads us back to Ireland once more, for at the height of European colonialism, as Said indicates, “the scope of Orientalism exactly matched the scope of empire” (1978:14). In fact the Celts in general and the Irish in particular were explicitly construed as an Oriental or Asiatic race.15 The Irish were compared to the primitive tribes of Africa, the inhabitants of the antipodes, and the peoples of the Orient (L. Curtis 1968:58). The philological tradition, based on the Indo-European hypothesis, stressed the similarities of the peripheries of the Indo-European culture area, thus explicitly linking the Celts and Sanskrit tradition, Ireland and India.16 Charles Vallencey’s theories of the Phoenician origin of the Irish also contributed to this discourse, and an Orientalist view of the Irish persisted among many of Ireland’s greatest twentieth-century writers.17 The mysticism of A.E. and Yeats, for example, predicates a special affinity between Ireland and the East, and Yeats believed that “Until the Battle of the Boyne Ireland belonged to Asia” (quoted in Kiberd 1995:252). For his part Joyce saw the Irish as being a Semitic race, having particular affinities with the Jews.18 Early on, however, by the end of the eighteenth century, partly inspired by Macpherson’s popular representation of Scottish historical and literary tradition in English, another movement is apparent. The Irish themselves became conscious of the cultural ravagings of English imperialism and began to seek ways to resist English cultural erosions. Already in 1846 − toward the beginning of the Great Famine − Denis Florence MacCarthy could analyze the situation in terms that anticipate those of Fanon: The fate of Ireland has certainly been most singular, and in her case spoliation has been carried to an extent unparalleled in the annals of any other nation. Not content with the plunder of the material riches of the country, the insatiable and avaricious hand of robbery has wished to snatch from her the unsubstantial yet consoling splendours of her traditions. (1846:16)

An antiquarian tradition arose within Ireland itself, in which early Irish texts were translated for the purposes of the reclamation of Irish culture. Most of the translation of Irish texts into English from the eighteenth century onward was done by or for the Irish themselves. Constrained, to be sure, by dominant English culture and often dependent on English publishing houses because of the economics of colonial rule, the translation movement nonetheless found ways

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to resist and challenge English stereotyping and English cultural spoliation. The Irish seized translation of their own cultural heritage as one means of reestablishing and redefining their nation and their people: throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries alike translation was engaged for the purposes of nationalism or protonationalism, leading to both cultural and armed resistance. As a textual activity in Ireland, therefore, unlike the antiquarian tradition in India or Egypt, translation from Irish to English was carried on primarily within the framework of Irish cultural nationalism. Like the armed republican resistance to England which surfaced so dramatically in 1798, translation of Irish cultural documents was undertaken both by descendants of the colonizers – Irish writers of English planter or Ascendancy stock – and by descendants of the Irish Gaelic indigenous stock, by Protestants and Catholics alike. Translators such as Eugene O’Curry and John O’Donovan worked in tandem with Charlotte Brooke, Edward Bunting, Samuel Ferguson, and Whitley Stokes, often cooperating in very tangible ways, as will be seen. Translation in the Irish context, thus, is not simply a locus of imperialism, but a site of resistance and nation building as well.19 The apparently neutral, academic, and recondite translation of medieval Irish texts has been an arena of intense ideological and even political activity. As a consequence, an analysis of the representations in translations of early Irish literature into English bares the mechanisms and the effects of colonization, as well as resistance to colonization, and, ultimately, the process of decolonization. An exploration of this discourse of translation as resistance in Ireland will therefore add to our understanding of postcolonial theory and translation theory alike. Numerous studies, such as those by Declan Kiberd (1995), David Lloyd (1987, 1993), Richard Allen Cave (1991), and David Cairns and Shaun Richards (1988), to name but a few, have already explored the representations of Ireland − of Irish culture, Irish history, and Irish language − in the literary works of Irish authors writing in English, from Spenser to Maria Edgeworth, from W. B. Yeats and James Joyce to Austin Clarke, from Patrick Kavanagh to Seamus Heaney.20 Such studies show that literary representations have reflected and constructed cultural developments in Ireland during the last several centuries, as well as intercultural relations between Ireland and England. Literary studies of this type have charted the colonization of Irish culture, as well as its decolonization, and have applied postcolonial theory to the case of Ireland. The representations of Ireland found in the translations of Irish literature into English are related to such literary representations, forming a complementary counterpoint to them, yet questions of translation have seldom been addressed in postcolonial approaches to Irish culture, where the many strands

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of contemporary translation studies promise fruitful results.21 This gap is all the more curious in view of David Lloyd’s (1993:97) observation that a “‘translational’ aesthetic” can be discerned in Irish poetry.22 Although Lloyd’s point here is astute in some ways, it should be stressed that translation cannot be considered simply textual loss.23 Moreover, in Ireland there were many visions of a national literature and many types of nationalism whose forms of resistance, competing values, and assertion of cultural difference can be traced in the translations themselves, as will be seen below. All the more reason to turn to translations of Irish literature themselves to investigate these aspects of Irish cultural formation. The types of representations encoded in translation, as well as the contrasts in the varied representations of the same cultural phenomenon, are apparent in translations of the description of Cú Chulainn’s transformation when he is in his battle fury.24 In 1878-80, Cú Chulainn’s frenzy was suppressed by Standish O’Grady, who was trying in his translations to assimilate Irish heroes to medieval chivalric prototypes; O’Grady provided only an allusion to the passage in a footnote (“an idea that in battle his stature increased”, 1878-80:2.280 n. 2). In Thomas Kinsella’s 1969 translation of Táin Bó Cúailnge, by contrast, Cú Chulainn’s transformation became his “warp-spasm” and was represented at length: The first warp-spasm seized Cúchulainn, and made him into a monstrous thing, hideous and shapeless, unheard of. His shanks and his joints, every knuckle and angle and organ from head to foot, shook like a tree in the flood or a reed in the stream. His body made a furious twist inside his skin, so that his feet and shins and knees switched to the rear and his heels and calves switched to the front. The balled sinews of his calves switched to the front of his shins, each big knot the size of a warrior’s bunched fist. On his head the temple-sinews stretched to the nape of his neck, each mighty, immense, measureless knob as big as the head of a month-old child. His face and features became a red bowl: he sucked one eye so deep into his head that a wild crane couldn’t probe it onto his cheek out of the depths of his skull; the other eye fell out along his cheek. His mouth weirdly distorted: his cheek peeled back from his jaws until the gullet appeared, his lungs and liver flapped in his mouth and throat, his lower jaw struck the upper a lion-killing blow, and fiery flakes large as a ram’s fleece reached his mouth from his throat. His heart boomed loud in his breast like the baying of a watch-dog at its feed or the sound of a lion among bears. Malignant mists and spurts of fire − the torches of the Badb − flickered red in the vaporous clouds that rose boiling above his head, so fierce was his fury. The hair of his head twisted like the tangle of a red thornbush stuck in a gap; if a royal apple tree

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with all its kingly fruit were shaken above him, scarce an apple would reach the ground but each would be spiked on a bristle of his hair as it stood up on his scalp with rage. The hero-halo rose out of his brow, long and broad as a warrior’s whetstone, long as a snout, and he went mad rattling his shields, urging on his charioteer and harassing the hosts. Then, tall and thick, steady and strong, high as the mast of a noble ship, rose up from the dead centre of his skull a straight spout of black blood darkly and magically smoking like the smoke from a royal hostel when a king is coming to be cared for at the close of a winter day. (Kinsella 1969:152-53)

O’Grady’s omission, his zero representation, was produced by an Irish cultural nationalist at the height of Victorian imperialism; it was shaped by a cultural ambience in which Samuel Ferguson felt compelled to introduce his volume entitled Versions from the Irish with the words, “An apology is needed for the rudeness of some of the following pieces” ([1865] 1978:169). English stereotypes current in O’Grady’s time attributed to the Irish a love of violence, a readiness to fight, a tendency to be easily angered, a love of battle, and violent passions that lead to unprovoked attacks. All these qualities were viewed as reasons that the Irish could not be self-governing, with Irish emotionalism being seen as the chief counter-indication. L. P. Curtis writes about this context: The charge of instability or emotional incontinence played such an important role in the English image of the Irish Celt that it deserves a closer look. By instability English observers meant that the Irish not only lived by and off their irrational impulses but experienced rapid alternation of moods or emotions. Here ... the self-image of the AngloSaxon came into play, for emotional restraint or continence was that quality most highly prized .... Of all the Irishman’s traits his reputation for emotionalism was perhaps the most damning so far as estimates of his political capacities were concerned. (1968:54)

Taken as a sign of social disorder and lawlessness, such stereotypes led Tennyson to speak of “the blind hysterics of the Celt” in In Memoriam (cf. L. P. Curtis 1968:54-61). Not surprisingly therefore, O’Grady omitted the motif in building his document of cultural nationalism, for clearly Cú Chulainn’s frenzy would have been read as confirmation and glorification of these negative images, thus strengthening British rule.25 Kinsella’s representation, on the other hand, was created half a century after the independence of the Irish state, after decades of Irish quiescence and Irish neutrality during World War II. Ironically, it was almost coincident with

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the outbreak of renewed militant hostilities in Northern Ireland and a reassertion of Irish “heroism”. Kinsella’s translation was produced by a descendant of one of the ruling Irish families of Leinster. O’Grady’s suppression of the episode responded to the colonial discourse about the wildness and lack of civilization in Ireland, a discourse that was used to justify English imperialism. By contrast Kinsella’s translation is a celebration and an assertion of cultural distinctiveness and difference; it was formed in a context of increasing influence of American mores and American cultural standards on Ireland, and it spoke to resistance against continued Victorian and Catholic mores in the Irish state, asserted in a climate of renewed consciousness about British oppression in Northern Ireland. Translation, like other forms of representation, can respond to the imposition of “cultural strength” on the part of the dominant culture and reify cultural hegemony, as O’Grady’s translation in this instance illustrates,26 but translation can just as well be a node for nationalism or cultural assertion, as we see in Kinsella’s translation of the distortion of Cú Chulainn in battle. The history of representing early Irish literature in translation reveals both similarities to and differences from the representation in translations of the cultures of other colonized peoples. In the case at hand translations form part of the background for the growth of Irish cultural nationalism and Irish cultural resistance to colonialism, from which in turn the postcolonial literature of Ireland emerges, as has happened in other nations as well. Ireland’s connections with other postcolonial cultures are a leitmotif of this book, and Ireland’s cultural resistance revealed in the translation history, like Ireland’s military resistance and military heroes, will perhaps offer inspiration in other quarters. To use translations in this way − as a gauge of representations − is to engage in a descriptive study of translation.27 Descriptive studies of translation are ultimately founded on the developments of modern linguistics: the SapirWhorf hypothesis has shown how deeply culture is connected to language, yet, as Roman Jakobson puts it, “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey” (1959:236). Behind these insights is the recognition that there is no Platonic reality represented in various ways by various languages, but that reality is constructed by language itself. Such views have moved the cutting edge of the study of translation from prescriptive stances to investigations of the choices and decision procedures that translators make in shifting from one language to another, one culture to another.28 Such decisions in turn reveal a translator’s strategy, the cultural pressures exerted on the translator as the translator recreates a reality constructed by a source text, and the functions of the translation in the receiving culture. From that understand-

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ing it is a short step to using translations as a tool for deconstructing cultural representations. Descriptive translation studies − when they attend to process, product, and function (Toury 1991) − set translation practices in time and, thus, by extension, in politics, ideology, economics, culture. This movement in translation studies, therefore, has some kinship to the new historicism of literary studies. Pierre Bourdieu emphasizes the importance of time in studies of art: “To treat a work of plastic art as a discourse intended to be interpreted, decoded, by reference to a transcendent code analogous to the Saussurian ‘langue’ is to forget that artistic production is always also − to different degrees depending on the art and on the historically variable styles of practising it − the product of an ‘art’, ‘pure practice without theory’, as Durkheim says ... ” (1977:1-2). As a language art, translation has often been considered from the viewpoint of timeless linguistic rules (which has led to a normative tendency in the theory) or from the viewpoint of transcendental inspiration (which has tended toward an erosion of theory altogether). Approaches to translation that stress the practical nature of translations, their grounding in space and time, take translation theory in a new direction. They place translations within their synchronic contexts, but also reveal diachronic processes and patterns as well (cf. Bourdieu 1977:9). Such approaches within translation theory naturally entail the revisionism shaping all fields, domains of inquiry, and discourses that pertain to cultural interface, including ethnography and anthropology.29 The translation of Irish literature is not simply a phenomenon of the modern age: in fact the translation of Celtic literature has been a significant feature of European letters since the Middle Ages. Through translation and adaptation, the Irish genre of the imram, ‘voyage to the otherworld’, and various types of vision literature passed into Continental literature, issuing ultimately in Dante’s Divina Commedia (Boswell). Geoffrey of Monmouth undertook the translation of Celtic historical material, primarily from Welsh oral tradition, in his Historia Regum Britanniae. The result, amplified by other Celtic and non-Celtic materials, was the Arthurian literature of the Middle Ages.30 Elements from Irish literature have also had a steady influx into English literature since the Middle Ages. There is a graphic account of the transfer of an Irish oral story to the French-speaking Norman conquerors of Ireland in the introduction to an Anglo-Norman poem recounting aspects of the Norman conquest of Ireland (Orpen 1892; cf. Bullock-Davies 1966). It has also been argued that Spenser and Shakespeare were influenced by Irish literature, and so many of Swift’s motifs in Gulliver’s Travels − from the episodic voyage structure of the narrative to the stature of the Lilliputians and the urinary capacity of the

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Brobdingnag maidens − show affinities with Irish literature that it seems possible that Swift, too, acts as an adaptor or translator of some Irish material. We can only hypothesize about the principles, techniques, and procedures that guided the translations of these early materials, inasmuch as the Celtic source materials were probably primarily oral and hence have been lost.31 The translation of Irish-language materials into English since the eighteenth century can, however, be documented, because translators in the modern period have relied principally upon written texts that are in most cases still extant. From the time of Macpherson to Seamus Heaney, the translation of early Irish literature has been a significant fact of literature in English, and, in the case of the Irish literary revival, translation and adaptation of Irish literature characterized an entire literary movement. These written literary texts and their translations provide ample data for historical and descriptive translation studies related to Irish literature, including longitudinal studies covering more than two centuries. This book focuses on the translation of early Irish literature into English in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This translation tradition is of interest for other historical and theoretical reasons than those that have already been discussed. It is one of the most continuous and lengthy traditions of literary translation between European cultures; at the same time, the coherence of the Irish literary tradition and the relatively contained corpus of early Irish literature make the set of translations considerably more circumscribed than, say, the translation interchange between French and English. Thus, the cultural contours of translation, as well as the historical and sociological pressures upon translation in the last two centuries, stand in higher relief. In addition, the differences between modern English literature and early Irish literature are profound, in part because of the archaic and conservative nature of early Irish literature. An investigation of the translation of early Irish literature into English, therefore, foregrounds questions about the translation of such literary elements as genre and poetic form, character types, plotting structures, and the like, more than would be the case between two more closely related literatures. Stylistics and other elements of literary decorum, including humour and tone, also present the English translator of Irish literature with significant choices that illuminate the translation process and the shaping of the translated product. Moreover, the colonization of Ireland, its cultural and political subordination to England, highlights questions about cultural transfer and interchange between cultures with radically different positions in the grid of cultural power. Translation in such circumstances is complex, for it often proceeds within “a weighty component of representation in the target culture” and a situation in which “knowledge of the source ... is substantially altered by a dialectic of

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attraction and repulsion” (Carbonell 1996:82). Indeed most of the translations of Celtic literature and historical materials have occurred under such conditions which result from the constraints of cultural subordination: even Geoffrey of Monmouth adapted Welsh traditions for the Latin-speaking community associated with the Norman conquerors of England. Translation of Irish texts into English has always proceeded along the vertical axis of cultural prestige and power, and it offers a case study of this process that spans centuries. The evidence, thus, particularly the history of the translation of early Irish materials into English in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, speaks to the topics of the colonialization and decolonialization of translation: the translation history becomes a record of the subordination and taming of Irish literature and Irish culture, its accommodation to dominant English norms, values, and poetics, even while the translations also illustrate an Irish discourse of subversion and resistance. One of the most significant phenomena to be charted is the dialectic between subordination and resistance that often occurs within a single translation. Because Ireland was colonized − and resisted colonialism − at an early point in history, the evolution of cultural nationalism in Ireland shows an extended trajectory, offering insights relevant to current cultural engagements in postcolonial nations, including the development of postcolonial literature. Moving beyond description, the present volume also turns to theoretical questions pertaining to the history and ideology of translation. At the same time fundamental linguistic differences between Irish and English illuminate other aspects of translation theory and practice as well. Old Irish is a paradigm of a dead language; as such it represents a limiting case that offers philosophical insight into the nature and scope of translation itself. The distance between early Irish culture and modern English culture offers insights about the translation of factors pertaining to social and material culture. Different cultural protocols of naming, as well as significant phonological differences between Irish and English, have other theoretical implications for studies of translation, as the transfer of Irish names in translation illustrates. Theoretical issues of this type, often encountered in practice primarily at the microlevels of texts, are explored in chapters 5-9. As these chapters illustrate, even technical linguistic questions have important implications for cultural investigations and they illuminate aspects of the creation of cultural representations, illustrating the interdependence of theoretical and descriptive studies of translation (cf. Toury 1995:15), as well as the interdependence of approaches to translation based on both linguistics and cultural studies (cf. Baker 1996). For postcolonial studies they open surprising avenues of inquiry. This study represents the first sustained investigation of the translation of early

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Irish literature into any language. The investigation is conducted within the framework of the current discussions of translation based in linguistics and literary studies, philosophy and cultural studies, anthropology and systems theory.32 The international school of polysystems theorists writing on translation – including such scholars as Itamar Even-Zohar, Gideon Toury, Theo Hermans, and André Lefevere, as well as those indebted to this inquiry, such as Lawrence Venuti – provides the framework for much of the discourse on the historical poetics of translation, and the arguments of literary theorists including Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin have also contributed to this study. Some chapters take as points of departure the arguments about translation initiated by linguists such as J. C. Catford and Roman Jakobson and developed in greater depth by more recent scholars, particularly continental schools of translation theory. Still other chapters engage with the arguments of philosophers who have written about translation or turned their attention to issues impinging on translation, including W. V. O. Quine, Saul Kripke, and Thomas S. Kuhn. At the same time, I draw upon the body of literature having to do with translation praxis; thus, the work of Eugene Nida and others with a practical orientation serves as a reference point for a number of arguments. This study illustrates, among other things, that translation studies as a field benefits from a variety of theoretical perspectives, and at the same time that literary and cultural studies benefit from a consideration of translation as a fact of literary and cultural history. The usefulness of many perspectives on the subject is related to I. A. Richards’s view that the translation process “may very probably be the most complex type of event yet produced in the evolution of the cosmos” (1953:250). The development of translation theories has in some cases been particularized, with writers choosing examples that illustrate their theoretical points, rather than testing their theories by applying them to an arbitrary set of texts (as would be done in scientific testing of theory). One reason Bible translators have been astute about translation praxis, by contrast, is that their work grows out of repeated translation of a varied but closed circle of texts in virtually every conceivable linguistic and cultural context. This has allowed for comparison and for the development of certain types of pragmatic and theoretical insights and principles. For the development of perspectives on the sociology and ideology of translation, however, Bible translation is particularly limited by its purpose, the cultural gradients involved, ideological constraints, and so forth; thus, theoreticians from the school of Bible translators are circumscribed in their theoretical perspectives by their own ideological and cultural agendas and presuppositions.33

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The analysis of other groups of actual translations, particularly relatively closed groups of texts and translations that can be used repeatedly to interrogate various theoretical paradigms, is a desideratum in the process of understanding translation and in developing and honing translation theory.34 This book can be viewed as such a pattern of interrogation, evolving as I have sought to understand the process of translation and specific theoretical approaches to translation by applying various theories to a set of Irish texts and their English translations in order to test the usefulness and durability of the materials available on translation. The arguments and conclusions that emerge have a general applicability to translation as a whole and might have been made by drawing on a wider variety of texts and translations. Such heterogeneous materials can suggest, however, that the theoretical problems raised and the conclusions reached reside in the carefully selected textual choices used as examples, and the heterogeneity of the subject materials may dilute conclusions about the relationship between translation, history, and ideology that emerge from the sustained investigation of the Irish materials to follow. A constant set of sample texts facilitates comparison of translation phenomena and the emergence of an overview of translation; it acts as a control to other studies which have more varied but also more random test fields. Moreover, because the body of source texts and translations on which these studies are based is circumscribed, the approach taken here has the advantage of permitting a reader to follow the arguments in detail or to test the conclusions by looking at a relatively small number of primary documents. Although the subject matter of this book frequently turns to literary translation, a few observations should be made about the focus. By the nature of the literature in question here, the materials to be discussed are broader than those in most studies of literary translation, to a large extent because the field of early Irish literature itself was broader than Western literature has been since the Romantics (cf. Eagleton 1983), including genres and types of cultural documents that the twentieth century does not generally consider literary. Moreover, the functions of English translations of early Irish literature have often been only marginally literary: they have been undertaken for a variety of purposes from an impetus akin to cultural archaeology (cf. Tolkien 1936), to nationalist apologia. As a consequence, although most of the early Irish texts discussed in this volume are literary (within the broadened definition of literature in question), many of the translations themselves are not literary translations (cf. Toury 1984:97). Within translation studies voices have sometimes been raised calling for the field to move beyond literary translation. This call is partly a reaction to the

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theoretical cul-de-sac of the workshop approach to translation, which dominated American approaches to literary translation for so long. Partly it is also a result of the practical need to train translators for non-literary purposes − and consequently to theorize about translation in this light − which has become so critical for translation studies in any multilingual polity, whether the European Union, or India, or the United States. But descriptive studies of translations of literary texts will still often offer the best, most comprehensive evidence about cultural interface, for a number of reasons. First, the record of translating literary texts frequently preserves the best evidence for an analysis of the cultural relations between two groups, based on the methods of translation studies; most types of non-literary texts are translated more sporadically and more locally than are important literary texts. Second, literary texts typically have greater cultural complexity and cultural involvement than other types of texts, reflecting not just poetics, but values, cultural patterns, and cultural structures as well; frequently the cultural picture is also a dialogic one, so that a literary text holds a record of cultural tensions and difference. Thus, such texts and their translations are particularly dense with evidence about cultural transfer. The holism involved in literary analysis of literary texts and translations also offers advantages that are absent from other approaches to translation, thus potentially deepening both specific studies and translation theory itself.35 But the most important value of analyses of literary texts and their translations is the sophistication and complexity of literary language itself. Dismissed or ruled out of some approaches to translation theory (e.g. Catford 1965), literary language is in fact language at its richest and most complex. Following Eugenio Coseriu, Mary Snell-Hornby observes, “Literary language cannot be dismissed as merely ‘deviant’ language, but on the contrary ... it rather represents the creative exploitation of the language potential against which ordinary language represents a reduction” (1988:70; cf. 49ff.). Thus, analyses of the translation of literary language must be able to be accommodated within any theory of translation that pretends to wide applicability; indeed, evasion of the challenges of literary language severely compromises the value of any theory of translation, for, as I will argue in chapter 9, literary language is ordinary language writ large (cf. Basso 1990:74-77). To return to the question of Ireland and its literature, there is at times a benefit in focusing on a small country. In his advice to a young Irish poet on how to become international, James Joyce recommended localism. Of his own writing Joyce said, “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world” (quoted in Power 1944:65). Joyce continues, “In the particular is contained the

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universal”, an extension that many would be less comfortable with at this juncture, when the imperialistic mask has been stripped off many manifestations of European “universalism” and “humanism” and the necessity of specifying the particular differentiating conditions of each people’s history is so apparent. These troublesome issues notwithstanding, in many ways Ireland’s history epitomizes the processes of colonization and decolonization. In 1610 in A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia, the Council of Virginia could urge the renewal of efforts to colonize Jamestown by offering the implicit success of England’s imperial progress in Ireland and Scotland: “The same God that hath ioyned three Kingdomes [England, Ireland, and Scotland] vnder one Caesar, will not be wanting to add a fourth [America], if wee would dissolue that frosty Icinesse which chilleth our zeale, and maketh vs so cold in the action” (quoted in Cheyfitz [1991] 1997:111). Ireland not Jamestown was “Britain’s first major experiment in Empire”.36 During the very years European powers were exploring and conquering the Americas and Asia and Africa, establishing their plantations and imposing their languages and laws, England undertook a ferocious military conquest of Ireland and was establishing plantations in Ireland, banning the use of the Irish language, and preempting the native legal system. Kinsella writes justly, “The mechanics of colonialism were tested in Ireland and the stages recorded in Irish literature, in both [its] languages” (1995:111, cf. 66). Moreover, the “civilizing mission” − both in its secular and religious varieties − associated with imperialism is patent in English dealings with its smaller neighbour. The result was a continual programme aimed at religious conversion in Ireland, as well as the virtual eradication of the native culture and language by the end of the nineteenth century. As Kinsella ironically and bitterly remarks, “Ireland was the closest of England’s colonies, and the most thoroughly civilized” (1995:111). But Ireland was the first English colony to gain its freedom in the twentieth century as well, the first colony to free itself without defeating the colonizing power in war, thus setting a pattern for the national liberation movements that followed. The case of Ireland is, therefore, of some interest and importance. The issues raised by postcolonial translation theory are “so gargantuan ... , so enormous and complicated and thoroughly steeped in the social and political histories of cultures and civilizations panning vast tracts of time and space” (D. Robinson 1997:78), that localism also offers perhaps the only hope of moving beyond gross generalizations toward sufficent specificity that can advance either translation studies or postcolonial studies. Localism is important, moreover, because as the world becomes increasingly globalized, it is paradoxically in the local that difference is maintained and manifest.37 It is increasingly on the

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local level that differences are articulated, negotiated, contested, and defended in relation to the process of history. For these varied reasons, then, this volume is an exercise in localism. If it is possible to get at the heart of a particular group of postcolonial Irish translations in relation to their own historical contingenies and specificities, the hope is that general patterns will become apparent and that out of the general will be born theoretical insight. But the particular can only be used in this fashion if it is subjected to hard scrutiny − not unrelated to the “scrupulous meanness” with which Joyce treated Dublin in his first work, Dubliners38 − and if sensitivity to difference is respected and a totalizing impulse resisted. It is in this spirit that I have interrogated the translations of early Irish literature − not primarily to criticize particular translators or to ridicule particular strategies, but to understand the workings of translators and translations within one postcolonial cultural context in order to come to understand the workings of translations and translators within postcolonial contexts in general, and, in turn, in order to interrogate scrupulously various theories of translation. Such an enterprise requires a kind of scrupulous meanness with respect to the method of investigation as well: it will not do to tailor the examples to the theory or to the question being scrutinized, and the investigator must not be self-indulgent in the examples picked to illustrate a theoretical hypothesis, as I intimated above. A theory should be applicable to any arbitrary case − if theory cannot stand up to such a test, it must be modified and reworked. Mathematical proofs are constructed to be applicable to any arbitrary number, or closed shape, or curve − depending on whether the mathematician is creating a proof in algebra, geometry, or calculus. When it turns out that a proof cannot apply to any arbitrary number or shape, the claims of the proof must be restricted and specified: a number from 1 to 100, a closed shape with less than five sides, or the like. Humanists in constructing theory too often neglect a like concern for making their proposals applicable to a wide variety of historical or literary situations and for determining the domain covered by their assertions. One of the weakest aspects of literary theories in recent decades has been the reliance on a small number of texts − mostly nineteenth and twentieth century, mostly Western − for examples. Literary theories have been promulgated without wide testing for applicability and with little concern to specify the limitations of applicability. Literary laws have been announced as universals when in fact they have applied at best only to modern literature, or to Western literature, or to written literature, or to high literature − or, at worst, to the intersection of these four sets. Translation theory is at the same risk and must address itself to the transla-

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tion of texts in general. It is a betrayal of the very enterprise of theorizing and model making to fail to test conclusions for their applicability to a wide variety of cases − to test, in fact, their applicability to the arbitrary case. Translation theory as such should apply to practice in general, and it should cover translation of Western and non-Western literature, oral and written, ancient and modern. It should apply to the translation of living and dead languages, translation between closely related languages and unrelated languages equally. Theory should be relevant to a wide variety of cultural contexts − between dominant cultures, between dominant and subordinate, or the inverse. When a theory cannot be fully generalized, its domain must be clearly stated: as applying to written or oral literature, modern or ancient texts, and the like. For reasons such as these − concerns related to the domain of applicability of theories of translation − I have turned time and again to the translation history of the early Irish hero tale Táin Bó Cúailnge into English in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This text has served me as the arbitrary example − the equivalent in mathematics of the arbitrary number or the arbitrary shape, as it were − against which to test various questions of translation practice and theory. It is a useful arbitrary example for a number of reasons. Because there are so many adaptations and translations of Táin Bó Cúailnge into English, translation products that span more than a century, the case generates a good deal of data that can be used to test any particular hypothesis. The number of translations also permits both synchronic and diachronic investigations. Moreover, the text (and early Irish literature in general) stands on the bridge between orality and literacy: like most literatures throughout history everywhere in the world, early Irish literature is an oral traditional literature, which in this case has been fortuitously written down without, as it happens, having impeded the life of the primal oral tradition itself. Although early Irish literature is a European literature, Táin Bó Cúailnge is also a useful test case because in many ways it stands apart from Western tradition, particularly Western literature as it has evolved since the Renaissance, the literary tradition that is the reference point of most theories of translation. Irish literature is anomalous, to use David Lloyd’s term (1993). Thus, early Irish literature often offers more comparisons with non-Western literatures than do most examples used in translation studies, presenting similar problems in translation as texts from many non-Western literatures − plots, character types, genres, literary establishments, culture, economics, and the like that are unfamiliar to a U.S. or European audience. As the texts of a dead language, early Irish literature typifies still other important translation problems which are usually excluded from consideration in writings on translation

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theory and practice. These features serve to test whether ideas proposed about translation in general are in fact implicitly restricted in the domain of their applicability. Finally, the charged ideological context within which translations of early Irish literature have been made, as well as the marked gradient in cultural prestige and dominance between Irish and English culture, serves to foreground questions of immense interest, offering an investigation of literary translation in a postcolonial context that facilitates comparison with translation in most nations emerging from imperial domination. For these several reasons, the translation of early Irish literature is an excellent test case of translation theory and practice: where general pronouncements fail to provide for the case of early Irish texts in general and Táin Bó Cúailnge in particular, the very breakdown is informative because it indicates the domain of validity for the theory in question − the bounds within which the theory is restricted. Writing about the postcolonial francophone literature of North Africa, Samia Mehrez asserts, the emergence and continuing growth on the world literary scene of postcolonial anglophone and francophone literatures from the ex-colonies as well as the increasing ethnic minorities in the First World metropoles are bound to challenge and redefine many accepted notions in translation theory which continue to be debated and elaborated within the longstanding traditions of western “humanism” and “universalism”. (1992:121)

Of what, we might ask, does this challenge consist? As this study pursues answers to the question Mehrez poses, it should be recognized at the outset that there is no single model for translation in a postcolonial context, just as there is no single trajectory of history in all postcolonial nations. Although Niranjana (1992) provides a strong analysis of translation as a colonizing tool in India, Mukherjee (1994) gives a different perspective on translation in the same context, indicating modes of resistance within translation that are in place in India. Similarly Mehrez (1992) offers perspectives on textual resistance in the francophone colonies of North Africa, even as Jacquemond (1992), focusing on Egypt, discusses the interrelations between French and Arabic translation practices. Simms (1983) documents a variety of techniques, functions, and goals of translation in the Pacific nations, and Rafael (1993) discusses imperialism against and resistance of the Tagalogs which can both be charted in the translation interactions associated with the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.39 The histories, cultures, linguistic blends, and stages of decolonization, among other things, of these varied situations differ; thus, translation in each situation

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will play its own role and have its own particular configuration. It goes without saying that not every point discussed below will in fact apply to every postcolonial context. One of the powerful aspects of translation in the Irish cultural context, however, is that it can be seen to have changed by turns: embodying perspectives of the colonizer and the colonized, showing the marks of oppression and resistance, evolving through numerous stages during the almost two hundred years that this translation tradition can be charted with precision, a period that traces Ireland from colonization through cultural and military resistance to decolonization. As such, the Irish translations offer a rich, multifarious body of examples to draw upon in understanding similar phenomena throughout the world and in integrating postcolonial translation into translation theory. Paradoxes and ironies of translation command the reader’s attention in the following chapters. How is it that “bad” translations serve important cultural ends? What conclusions can be drawn from the case of an unfamiliar literary form that can be translated into two forms with diametrically opposite positions in the hierarchy of literary genres in the receiving culture? How does it happen that polarities of translation strategy serve a united function within a system of translation? How are we to understand the Catch-22 of translation theory in which phonological translation of names leads to the abandonment of the concept of “name” while preservation of the “naming” function obscures essential semantic and semiotic codings in the names themselves? What insights are gained from the nexus of the obscurity of literary language and the quest for clarity of translation? Paradox, irony, inversions, reciprocal incompatibilities, and puzzles are at the heart of these investigations, and they lead to reappraisals of critical concepts about translation. In the studies below I consider a number of target texts that many would consider more properly “adaptations” or “imitations”, such as, for example, Standish O’Grady’s versions of the Ulster Cycle tales contained in his twovolume work, History of Ireland, or Augusta Gregory’s versions in Cuchulain of Muirthemne. In my selection of translated texts I am following Gideon Toury’s very broad definition of a translation: “a translation will be any target language text which is presented or regarded as such within the target system itself, on whatever grounds” (Toury 1982:27; cf. Toury 1980:14, 37, 43-45). Lefevere (1992b) in his studies uses the term “rewriting”, so as to include what are commonly considered both adaptations and translations (see esp. 47); moreover, he argues (96ff.) for the importance of considering all translations, not just those that fit our own time-bound concept of what a translation is. Even-Zohar (1990:51, 74-75) similarly observes that narrow restrictions on

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what counts as a translation has meant the exclusion of most products of interlingual transfer from most scholarly discourse about translation. Texts such as those of O’Grady and Gregory, which are heavily oriented toward the receptor audience, often offer considerable evidence about translation as a form of representation and about the adaptation of literary texts and other cultural materials in the interface of cultures. Indeed, such translations are often the most illuminating about the process of constructing representations of Irish culture. Moreover, a focus on the texts of translation, including texts that were popular with their contemporaries, however little they appeal to our own time or cultures, helps to move the level of discussion about translation beyond questions of taste and esthetics to larger questions of historical poetics. Translation as a process is, in a sense, de-estheticized; this is essential if studies of culture and translation are to escape the tyranny of contemporary values and to focus on translation as a phenomenon of literary and cultural systems.

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Notes for A Note on Early Irish Literature and Introduction 1. An alternative to this standard view can be found in Kim McCone, Pagan Past and Christian Present in Early Irish Literature (1990). 2. On Ireland’s divided or “dual” tradition, see Kinsella 1970, 1995. 3. See the discussion by Wall of the same terminological problem. In opting for the use of “Anglo-Irish”, Wall (1986:9) notes that this was also the term used by Joyce. 4. “All philosophy is a ‘critique of language’” (1961:36-37). 5. See Asad (1986) for a history of this conceptualization, as well as a critique of it. Cf. also Niranjana (1992). 6. Bhabha 1994; Budick and Iser 1996; Cheyfitz [1991] 1997; Simon 1994, 1996:7ff., 134ff. 7. See Venuti 1992:7-8, 68-69, 161; Bassnett 1992:66ff.; A. Benjamin 1989:ch. 5, 1992. On the relationship of translation to editing, literary history, and criticism, see Lefevere 1992b:chs. 9-12. 8. An orientation found, for example, in Bassnett and Lefevere 1990:1-13; Toury 1995, 1987; Snell-Hornby 1988, 1990; Simon 1996; Pym 1992; Talgeri and Verma 1988; and Dingwaney and Maier 1995. Cf. also Baker 1996. 9. Writers who do choose to write in the language of a dominant and/or dominating culture can also choose resistant strategies of writing, strategies that challenge the resolutely monolingual and monocultural stance of the dominant culture in question. Within this paradigm, literary works in a sense become translations of themselves. Examples are found in Sommer 1992; Mehrez 1992; and Simon 1994. 10. Hadfield and McVeagh (1994:3, 8) take up some of the theoretical problems in the representation of nations and national cultures, particularly as Ireland is concerned. 11. See Luhmann [1984] 1995:10 and passim. 12. The concept of difference in relation to translation and strategies for highlighting difference are discussed in the essays collected in Graham 1985, including the work of Derrida; Venuti 1992, 1995; Gentzler 1993:ch. 6; Bassnett 1993:ch. 7; Bassnett 1992; Godard 1990; de Lotbinière-Harwood 1991; Vieira 1994; and Dingwaney and Maier 1995, among others. 13. I am using the term “postcolonial” to refer to events subsequent to colonization (cf. D. Robinson 1997:13-14, case 2). In the case of Ireland, therefore, postcolonial studies might reach back to the twelfth century in some instances. Kiberd (1995:5-6, 15ff.), taking postcolonial writing as beginning when a “native writer formulates a text committed to cultural resistance”, rather than writing subsequent to the withdrawal of the colonial occupier, points out that such resistance can be clearly seen by the seventeenth century in Irish literature. 14. Kiberd (1996, 1998) contests this view, taking the position that the Irish voluntarity abandoned their language in the nineteenth century, becoming the first cultural migrants into modernity. 15. More detailed discussion of this equation is found in Cronin 1996:104-5ff., 119, 134; Cheng 1995:98ff.

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16. Consistent with French and British colonization of the Celts, various features of Celtic languages, particularly initial mutation and the subject-verb-object word order of Irish, had been evidenced as indicating that Celtic languages and cultures were unrelated to other European languages and cultures. Only in 1786 did William Jones suggest that the Celts were “European” by heritage and he included them in his proposed Indo-European hypothesis. The older views persisted well into the nineteenth century when they were put to rest by specialists in Celtic linguistics; nonetheless, doubts about the Indo-European origin of Irish were sufficiently strong in the twentieth century that they determined the argumentation strategy of Thurneysen’s definitive rebuttal in his Grammar of Old Irish, published originally in German in 1909, even as the Irish were mounting resistance to British rule. 17. Ultimately it was probably the ontological status of the Irish as a colonized people that kept this discourse alive and for this reason many of Said’s conclusions about Orientalism can be applied to Ireland. Only after independence did Ireland rush to Europeanize itself (Kiberd 1995). 18. Joyce’s views are complex; see the discussion in M. Tymoczko 1994b:39ff. 19. The use of translation to build a national literature has a long history, antedating colonialism. See Delisle and Woodsworth 1995:ch. 3. 20. Other studies applying postcolonial theory to Irish literature and culture include Cheng 1995; Deane 1985, 1986; Duffy 1994; Eagleton, Jameson, and Said 1990; and Nolan 1995. 21. An excellent and thorough overview of the history of translating and translation in Ireland is found in Cronin 1996, but Cronin’s treatment of any particular translation is necessarily brief because of the scope of his survey and he does not pursue a postcolonial approach to the topic. Although Cronin briefly surveys many of the translations considered in this book, his focus is on the process of translation in general, rather than on specific textual or theoretical issues; moreover, he does not take up the issues exemplified by translating early Irish literature or language per se. The issues of cultural and literary interface in the translation of early Irish literature into English and Modern Irish are also discussed by Marcus (1970) and O’Leary (1994) respectively, but neither approaches these topics from the perspective of translation studies. See also Lloyd 1982, 1987, where translation issues are also addressed. Kiberd (1995:624) concludes that “the Irish Renaissance had been essentially an exercise in translation”, yet he fails to discuss any of the translations of early Irish literature, passing over Kinsella’s work, for example, with a phrase. 22. Lloyd (1993:92-93) attributes this “translational aesthetic” to felt need that “a national poetry must speak with one voice”, identifying a nationalist appeal to a rural, Gaelic culture already in decay. He notes that “it is not to that culture in itself that appeal is made, but rather to a ‘refinement’ or ‘translation’ of its essence, traced among the fragmentary survivals of an already decimated past life”. Moreover, the process of refinement was most often the “antithesis of supplementation, involving instead the purging of extraneous materials”. 23. This point has become a commonplace of writing on translation; see, for example, Simon 1994:21ff.

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24. Cú Chulainn is the chief hero of the Ulster Cycle in the dominant medieval form of this group of tales. Son of the sister of the Ulster king Conchobor and a supernatural father (usually the deity Lug), Cú Chulainn follows the familiar path of heroes. He matures early, taking arms at the age of seven, proves himself in supernatural exploits, and at the age of 17 stands along against Ulster’s heroes in the tale Táin Bó Cúailnge. Like most heroes he is volatile, dangerous to the tribe as well as to enemies, and he kills his only son. He dies at a young age, fighting alone again, after he has broken his geasa (often translated ‘taboos’, see below ch. 6) in order to maintain his own honour and the honour of Ulster. Cú Chulainn became a chief interest of the Irish literary revival, with the character epitomizing Irish heroism. He was a symbolic figure particularly associated with both Patrick Pearse and W. B. Yeats. A statue of the death of Cú Chulainn by Oliver Sheppard memorializes the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin’s General Post Office. 25. The motif embarassed or shocked other early translators as well and is consequently omitted or euphemized. See below, chapter 6; cf. O’Leary 1994:257-58 n.141. 26. On the idea of “cultural strength” see Cabral [1973] 1994:60; Said 1978:25. Said’s study of the scholarly representations of Islamic culture and their connections with art, literature, and politics stands as the type study of the investigation of representation in postcolonial studies. It is curious that Said included in his investigation very little detailed consideration of translation per se. 27. Cf. Toury 1995, 1982, 1980; Lambert 1989; Lefevere 1992b. 28. For other approaches to the discussion of translators’ choices, see Lefevere 1992b; LevO( 1967; Gorlée 1994:ch. 4; and references cited. 29. See, for example, Bourdieu 1977, and Clifford and Marcus 1986. Niranjana (1992) also discusses the importance of history in the consideration of translation. 30. Loomis (1959:chs. 8, 11-13) provides an overview of these developments. Still later, Geoffrey’s Celtic history became popular again and via Holinshed supplied Shakespeare with material, including the story of Lear. 31. A discussion of translation in oral traditions is found in M. Tymoczko 1990. 32. Gentzler (1993) offers a convenient overview of recent theories of translation. 33. A group of studies using Modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature as test cases has also permitted a coherent investigation of certain facets of translation theory and practice, but the uniformity of theoretical presupposition has at times been a limiting factor in these studies. See Even-Zohar 1990 and sources cited. There is also a substantial set of case studies pertaining to translation in Quebec. See, for example, Brisset 1989, 1996; Homel and Simon 1988; de Lotbinière-Harwood 1991; Simon 1992, 1994, 1995; Woodsworth 1994:61ff.; and Mossop 1994. 34. Jacquemond notes that “Two major propositions have gradually gained ground in recent years and have prompted scholars to reconsider their approach to the study of translation. These are (a) that the privileged object of translation studies, namely the translated text, cannot be analyzed without a global understanding of the phenomena of linguistic contact and creation as they take place within

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36.

37. 38. 39.

Translation in a Postcolonial Context the linguistic and cultural community to which the text belongs, and (b) consequently, translations cannot be understood merely through a linguistic and/or literary analysis: they must be analyzed in relation to their social and historical context” (1996:2.93). For these reasons, he suggests that studies of particular traditions of translation are especially valuable. Cf. Gorlée 1994:14ff.; Snell-Hornby 1988:29ff., 51ff. Training translators in literary analysis might have practical benefits as well; for example, a translator attuned to imagery in a text would not need to go through the time consuming and cumbersome mechanical process of analyzing lexical fields described by Snell-Hornby (1988:71ff.). Cheyfitz (1993:27), quoting Richard Beale Davis, argues that the Virginia plantations set the pattern for British and later U.S. imperialism. See Hadfield and McVeagh 1994 for documentation of the close parallels that exist in the discourses about Ireland and America. Laudabiliter had justified England’s dominance over Ireland from the twelfth century, thus making the mission to civilize and convert the Irish dominant until the time of Henry VIII (Hadfield and McVeagh 1994:9) and continuing to drive discourses thereafter as well. Discourses about Ireland stress wildness, the empty land, and the barbarism and bestiality of the people, with the same practical implications for Ireland as for the New World in terms of land and power. The Irish are compared to Indians, and one author notes that the Irish are “little better than Canniballes” (Hadfield and McVeagh 1994:77). See also below, chapter 2. See the essays in King (1997) which argue this point. Joyce uses this term in a letter to Grant Richards, 5 May 1906. Bassnett (1993) and Dingwaney and Maier (1995) also survey translation responses to cultural inequity around the world. See D. Robinson (1997) for an excellent overview of postcolonial translation theory.

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1. The Metonymics of Translation It is what I have tried to do, to take the best of the stories, or whatever parts of each will fit best to one another, and in that way to give a fair account of Cuchulain’s life and death. I left out a good deal I thought you would not care about for one reason or another, but I put in nothing of my own that could be helped, only a sentence or so now and again to link the different parts together. Augusta Gregory, Dedication, Cuchulain of Muirthemne

It is a curious fact of contemporary literary studies that very different branches of literary theory have converged on the same insight: every telling is a retelling. Deconstruction, as well as its critical progenitors, has been at pains to point out that writers do not simply create original texts: to a great extent any literary work is dependent on texts that have gone before and, moreover, literature is as much about literature as about life. There are not only text and context, but a fabric of intertextuality that links texts to other literary works, both textual predecessors and contemporaries. Thus, a literary work, like a translation, depends on previous texts: neither is an “original semantic unity”, both are “derivative and heterogeneous”.1 Every writing is a rewriting. Studies of oral literature − that is, the literatures of most peoples of the world currently and the literatures of most past cultures, literatures which include both folklore and oral epic, as well as various other performance types − have come to similar conclusions. It is agreed that the content, form, and performance techniques of any given traditional song or tale, for example, derive from established patterns that the teller or singer inherits and in turn passes on to those who succeed him. Albert Lord, following Milman Parry, the framer of the theory of oral composition of epics such as the Iliad, Beowulf, and La Chanson de Roland, has summarized this view succinctly: “The picture that emerges is not really one of conflict between preserver of tradition and creative artist; it is rather one of the preservation of tradition by the constant re-creation of it. The ideal is a true story well and truly retold” (Lord [1960]1964:29, cf. 99ff.). Every creation is a re-creation. Folk tellers themselves acknowledge their own indebtedness to the tellers who have gone before them, as can be seen in the stories of some of the most famous twentieth-century Irish storytellers. Peig Sayers ends one of her tales, “That’s my story, and if there’s a lie in it, let there be. ’Tis long ago I heard it from my father. He had the world of stories” (trans. in O’Sullivan 1966:204). Similarly, after telling a version of the Deirdre story, E(amonn a Búrc concludes, “That’s the way I heard that story being told by my own father, William Burke

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of Aird Mhór” (trans. in O’Sullivan 1974:29). And again from E(amonn a Búrc, “That’s a true story, the way I heard it! If ’tis a lie, it wasn’t I made it up” (trans. in O’Sullivan 1974:119). Thus, literary works are recreations, retellings, or rewritings, whether they are oral or written, ancient or modern. Looking at literature in this way is useful for understanding aspects of individual literary works, literary traditions, and literary systems, and an exploration of the workings of retellings or rewritings, of the characteristics and properties of retellings and rewritings, offers potential insights for all levels of literary inquiry. Investigation of the way any particular type of rewriting functions also potentially illuminates other types of recreation, rewriting, or refraction. Translation theorists, notably André Lefevere, have stressed that translation is a very obvious form of rewriting. Investigations of translation and translations have much to teach about the nature of literature as a whole; conversely investigations of retellings and rewritings have much to teach about translation as a process and translations as products. Although translations are “probably the most radical form of rewriting in a literature, or a culture” (Lefevere 1985:241), they are to be grouped with other modes of processing primary texts, including film versions of texts, children’s versions, criticism, reviews, literary histories, anthologies, editions, and the like, all of which shape the evolution of literature and culture.2 Not only are literary texts themselves forms of rewriting, literary texts do not exist and operate simply in their primary form; rather literary works are “surrounded by a great number of ... refracted texts” (Lefevere 1982a:13; cf. 1982b:4-8, 16-19). Processed for various audiences or adapted to a particular poetics or ideology, refracted texts are responsible in large measure for defining, maintaining, and redefining a canon. Translation is one form of refraction, a form of writing that is rewriting. A basic feature of rewritings and retellings is that they are metonymic. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which an attribute or an aspect of an entity substitutes for the entity or in which a part substitutes for the whole.3 Thus, twelve keels sailed the sea is metonymic for twelve ships sailed the sea, where keels, parts of ships, substitutes for the whole, ships. Perhaps the most famous metonymy of twentieth-century literature is James Joyce’s “bronze by gold heard the hoofirons, steelyringing”, the opening sentence of the eleventh episode of Ulysses, where “bronze by gold” is metonymic for the two barmaids, a redhead and a blond represented respectively by the colour attributes of their hair. The metonymic aspects of literary retellings are particularly clear in two cases: the case of oral traditional literature and the case of mythic literature, written as well as oral.

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John Foley (1987:192ff.) has argued that when a traditional oral tale is told, the telling is metonymic on several levels. For a traditional audience each telling evokes metonymically all previous tellings of the tale that the audience has participated in and, further, the telling instantiates and reifies metonymically the entire tradition that the audience and teller share. So, for example, the traditional Yugoslav audience hearing Avdo Meðedoviæ sing a song about Marko Kraljeviæ had evoked for them all other occasions of Avdo singing the same song, but also all other singers’ versions of the same epic, and beyond that all of Marko’s various adventures and the Serbo-Croatian epic tradition as a whole with all its many epic tales, as well as the relation of that epic tradition to the culture and the history of the community.4 At the same time, the form of the epic being sung was also metonymic of the formulas, the metre, the genre, and the methods of oral composition in Serbo-Croatian tradition. In France an oral rendering of “La Belle et la Bête” not only called up all previous oral and written renditions of this tale, but all versions of tale type AT 425C (or even AT 425, the entire animal groom cycle), as well as the traditional lore of France.5 Moreover, its form was metonymic of the various narrative conventions of wondertales in France, from the opening and closing signals of the genre to the medieval ambience of the settings. The Irish audience hearing the story of Finn trapped in the bruiden (‘a hostel, large banqueting-hall, house, fairy-palace’) in which Conan adheres by his posterior to a bench, has evoked metonymically all previous versions of the same tale, as well as the genre of bruiden tales, the entire corpus of Fenian lore, and Irish traditional literature in general. At the same time other aspects of the oral tradition in Ireland − such as the narrative form (including the “runs” of Irish wondertale tradition), the relationship of the Fenian ballad tradition to the narrative tradition, and the hierarchical prestige of various sorts of tales with Fenian tales at the summit − are also metonymically evoked.6 The power of this discourse about the metonymics of rewritings and retellings as a framework for the discussion of translations is illuminated by the characteristics of the rewritings and retellings that are most familiar to literary scholars: written versions of myths.7 Every telling is a retelling: there are no stories for which this is more true than myths, for which there are no “originals”. Myths descend from the depths of time − indeed, this is what it means to be a traditional story. Even if we suppose that there was once a single moment of creation for any specific myth (which most theorists of oral tradition would agree is usually the case), behind that moment of creation lies a vast body of tale types and archetypal patterns which the myth reworks and reanimates.8 Foley’s argument about oral traditional literature can be extended to the

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case of rewritings of myth, the most familiar examples of which in Western tradition are reworkings of classical and biblical myths, though rewritings of the Arthurian legend and the stories of Don Juan or Faust could also be used to illustrate the same principles. The rewritings of classical myths have been a staple of Western literature, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to the Old French Eneas and the Middle English Sir Orfeo, through Shakespeare’s Troilus and Racine’s Phèdre, to Joyce’s Ulysses, Anouilh’s Antigone, and Camus’s Mythe de Sisyphe. Any single version of these myths calls up in a reader all other versions of the same story: the part (a single version) stands for the totality of the myth. Joyce’s Ulysses evokes in the reader not only Homer’s Odyssey but Dante’s Ulysses and Tennyson’s Ulysses and even potentially Charles Lamb’s version of the Odyssey for children, entitled The Adventures of Ulysses. Indeed Ulysses is a perfect example of the metonymic aspect of literary reworkings of myths, for in order to understand Joyce’s story of Dublin on 16 June 1904, the reader must already know other versions of the Ulysses myth or else come away with a very strange conception of Ulysses indeed and have absolutely no clue about the classical architectonics of Joyce’s work.9 Like folktellers, literary artists use the metonymic aspect of mythic retelling in powerful − though distinct − ways. Authors commonly use a canonical version of the myth as an implicit standard of comparison, against which the audience measures the author’s own vision. For a mythic retelling to make its full impact, the audience must be familiar with such a canonical version of the myth as a baseline for their reception of the mythic retelling. When the twelfthcentury author of the Old French Eneas foregrounds Aeneas as lover, rather than as the heroic and dedicated (Dido might even have said monomaniacal) founder of Rome, he is speaking to his contemporaries about the relative importance of love and war in a man’s life, using the Aeneid as the implicit standard for his own work.10 When Giraudoux wrote La Guerre de Troie n’aura pas lieu, he counted on the fact that the audience knew that the Trojan War would take place, that they were familiar with the Iliad, if only through refractions, as a baseline for understanding his reworking of the myth. Thus, authors make their thematic points in mythic rewritings through a metonymic process. The metonymic aspect of mythic retellings allows a teller or a writer to adapt, amplify, or even subvert an established myth and nonetheless still participate in and continue the tradition. These are examples of the ways that, in order to understand and appreciate any one version of a myth, a reader must refer a specific version to the whole mythic tradition. At the same time such a rewriting of a classical myth stands metonymically for the larger mythic corpus of which the single story is part,11

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for the particular national or linguistic literature of which the single version is part, for the entire tradition of Western written literature all the way back to the Greeks, as well as for the earlier oral Indo-European heritage. It is a paradox that one must already know a myth in order to recognize a mythic tale and to apprehend the import of any particular version of the myth, yet the myth itself does not exist apart from specific versions.12 Though the metonymic aspect of mythic rewritings is particularly clear because the content of the texts represents larger wholes (whole families of texts), all literature works this way and the metonymic aspects of texts are not restricted to content. Aspects of poetics, specifically literary form, are also metonymic in written literature as in oral literature. Thus, for example, any single English sonnet evokes all the sonnets of Shakespeare and Petrarch, as well as the entire tradition of sonnet writing.13 This is so because any writing is a rewriting, any literary creation a recreation. The metonymic level of a text is only one of many levels: the literal level, of course, but also the metaphoric level. Interestingly, the metaphoric level can be generalized by the audience, so that it too becomes a metonymy. Thus, for example, in Anouilh’s Antigone, Antigone’s resistance to Creon is to be read as a metaphor for resistance to the Nazis, but in turn it can be seen as metonymic of all human resistance to injustice everywhere and for all time. The metonymic levels of literature facilitate the extension of the metaphoric aspects of a text so that the latter also acquire a metonymic significance, becoming emblematic of larger human experience, for example. This is one of the things that is meant when people talk about the way in which myth “universalizes” or about the way great literature speaks to “the human condition”. Within literary works other sorts of metonymies are also operative. A piece of literature customarily evokes its culture through consequential and telling signals or details, typically parts or aspects of the culture that are saturated with semiotic significance and emblematic of the culture as a whole, both in terms of objective structure and subjective experience. For example, references to significant places or key historical events or kinship patterns can serve to locate a literary work within a larger context of time, space, and social structure, thus evoking those larger cultural contexts (cf. Basso 1990). In this regard, such cultural elements within a literary work are metonymic evocations of the culture as a whole, including its material culture, history, economy, law, customs, values, and so on. Metonymic structures within literary texts are, therefore, densely woven, referring to various aspects of the literary system and to other cultural systems alike. The metonymic features of literature are essential to the ways literature is learned, recognized, and known, and, thus, to the epistemology of literature.

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Because single literary works can represent larger abstract literary wholes and categories, human beings are able to learn about and recognize tale types, genres, categories of literature, forms, and so on from a limited exposure to literary examples. Literature, like language, is not simply mastered through exhaustive exposure to examples, and literary production is not simply a matter of duplication of what has been learned. The learning of literature involves the recognition and mastery of patterns and, as with language, the questions of competence and generativity are complex. Metonymy in literary rewritings and retellings is also an important aspect in cultural continuity and change. It permits the adaptation of traditional content and form to new circumstances, allowing change while still maintaining a predominant sense of the preservation of larger elements of tradition. The metonymic dimension of literature enables traditional audiences to correct (and forgive) the mistakes or omissions of traditional tellers, to take enjoyment in tales told in an abbreviated or cryptic manner, to fill gaps in narrative textures. It enables young tellers to learn from others, to correct or improve upon their teachers’ versions, and to go on to become even greater masters themselves. Performance theorists are also coming to understand how allusions − including references to the sites associated with traditional tales − are metonymic tellings of the tales themselves (Baumann and Briggs 1990:75; Basso 1990:chs. 6 and 7; Miner 1990:94, 151-54; Plett 1991:135-64).14 Those special rewriters called translators grapple with the metonymic aspects of literature all the time. In translations of works from cultures and literatures that are related to the receptor system − for example, literary systems that with the receiving language system form a megasystem, as French and English literature do with each other − most of the metonymic aspects of the source text related to literary and cultural patterns are transparent to the translator’s receptor audience. Even with cultures that are somewhat further apart, many of the metonymic aspects of texts often present relatively few problems to the receiving audience of a translation. Thus, contemporary Englishspeaking audiences understand fairly well the generic signals of nineteenthcentury Russian novels such as Anna Karenina; the plotting and character types are familiar, even though certain aspects of Russian culture, such as elements of the law or the use of nicknames or the symbolic significance of samovars, may not be. Such works in translation are able to be integrated into canons of world literature − or at least canons defined within the framework of dominant Western cultures − with relative ease. But what happens when the metonymic aspects of the story are opaque rather than transparent to the receptor audience? How is a translator to translate a work whose characters, plot, form, genre, and

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literary allusions, just to name a few parameters of a literary system, are unfamiliar and “unreadable” by the intended receptor audience of the translation? The discourse about rewriting and about the metonymic aspects of literature being developed here is a particularly potent framework for the discussion of the translation of a non-canonical or marginalized literature. Since there are many types of non-canonical or marginalized literatures, it should be made explicit that here I am primarily speaking about literature that is marginalized because it is the literature of a marginalized culture. The intent is to consider specifically texts that have been excluded or omitted from the canon − or, more properly speaking, canons − of world literature as defined by Western perspectives. There are often, in fact usually, massive obstacles facing translators who wish to bring the texts of a marginalized culture to a dominant-culture audience: issues related to the interpretation of material culture (such as food, dress, tools) and social culture (including law, economics, customs, and so forth), history, values, and world view; problems with the transference of literary features such as genre, form, performance conventions, and literary allusions; as well as the inevitable questions of linguistic interface. For all these reasons the information load of translations of such marginalized texts is often very high − in fact it is at risk of being intolerably high. Because neither the cultural content nor the literary framework of such texts is familiar to the receiving audience, the reception problems posed by marginalized texts in translation are acute. Another way of putting this point is to say that while a marginalized text is a retelling or rewriting for its original audience, it is neither for the receiving audience of a translation of the text. The translator is in the paradoxical position of “telling a new story” to the receptor audience, even as the translator refracts and rewrites a source text − and the more remote the source culture and literature, the more radically new the story will be for the receiving audience.15 Early Irish literature is an example of such a marginalized literature, and translators moving Irish literary works to other cultures have frequently been in the position of “telling a new story”. The way in which a literary text represents metonymically features of its literary system and ultimately features of its whole culture is what makes translating a text of a marginalized culture so difficult. A translator assumes a large responsibility in undertaking to produce a text that becomes representative of the whole source literature and, indeed, of the entire source culture for the receptor audience. The political implications of such representations are not to be underestimated, as Norman Simms (1983) and Tejaswini Niranjana (1992), for example, have shown, and it is the control of the image of the source culture and the source literary tradition that made the translation of certain Asian

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texts so controversial and “touchy” in the twentieth century. But aside from the question of politics, it is in large measure the lack of familiarity with the metonymic aspects of the literary texts of marginalized cultures that makes it difficult for the audiences of dominant cultures to integrate marginalized texts into their canons, irrespective of any linguistic or even ideological barrier. What happens when the audience doesn’t understand the metonymies − when the audience doesn’t understand the literary signals, the form, the genre, the culture? What happens in short when a translator has to tell a new story? Since the Russian formalists, it has become a commonplace to say that literary language is defamiliarized language, the implication of which for translation will be taken up in chapter 9 below, but it is also generally agreed that if literary language becomes too strange or too defamiliarized, it cannot be comprehended. The information load becomes too heavy for comprehension and, in the case of translations, the receiving audience cannot understand the translated text.16 It is also the case that human beings are not very good at hearing new stories: we have the tendency to reinterpret them, to reshape them so that they become versions of stories we already know. This phenomenon is epitomized by Laura Bohannan (1966) in her now classic article about telling the story of Hamlet to a traditional audience in West Africa. Having chosen to tell Hamlet because she felt the story was “universal”, Bohannan discovered in the course of narration numerous fundamental incompatibilities between the tale and the expectations of her audience. As any audience will in a traditional oral culture, her listeners soon intervened, “corrected” her narration, and adapted the tale to their own literary and cultural context with the result that they were satisfied to have heard a good story, only to leave Bohannan doubtful that it was “the same story” after all.17 In general, cognitive science suggests that we tend to assimilate new and unfamiliar information to patterns that are already recognized and that have already become familiar, and there is some evidence from studies of the brain that there is a biological basis to this tendency.18 Leaving aside wider cultural questions for the moment, in a case such as this the amount of literary information to be conveyed to the receiving audience is excessive. Either the translator must make some decisive choices about which aspects to translate − that is, to choose consciously to translate selected facets of the literary information in the text − or the translator must seek a format that allows dense information transfer through a variety of commentaries on the translation. This is why initial translations of unfamiliar texts are so often either popular or scholarly: the former are usually severely limited in their transfer intent and minimally representative of the metonymic aspects of the source text, while the latter allow a good deal of metatranslation to proceed,

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presenting quantities of information through such vehicles as introductions, footnotes, appendices, parallel texts, and so forth. In a scholarly translation the text is embedded in a shell of paratextual devices that serve to explain many of the metonymies of the source text, providing a set of contexts for the translation which often, accordingly, has a somewhat technical character and, hence, appeals to a limited audience. In the case of a popular translation, by contrast, the translator typically focuses on selected salient aspects of the literary text which are made accessible to a broad segment of the target audience. These alternatives are exemplified by the translation history of early Irish literature. On the one hand, in his ground-breaking versions of early Irish narratives published in 1878-80, Standish O’Grady sought to convey in broad strokes the plots, the characters, and the general historicized texture of the Irish stories to his Anglo-Irish audience. O’Grady sacrificed the genres, the character types, the linguistic texture, and even the names in his source texts, but his work was accessible to any competent reader of English. O’Grady’s publications became widely known, popular, and influential, leading to a demand for more translations and refractions of tales about Ireland’s gods and heroes. Later translations in turn evoked more adequately the metonymic relationship of the texts to other features of the Irish linguistic, literary, and cultural systems for people who were already familiar with the basic content of the tales. Ernst Windisch, on the other hand, in his magisterial 1905 treatment of Táin Bó Cúailnge, was able to present to his audience such features as genre and character type and even the peculiar character of the Irish heroic tradition, but his German translation is a scholarly one, accompanied by an edition of the text as well as by enormous commentary and footnotes, providing masses of contextual and intertextual information in his 1120-page volume. Windisch’s work was clearly aimed at a narrow, scholarly population within the German-speaking world. However, even in a dense scholarly presentation not all the information serving metonymic functions in a text from an unfamiliar literature or culture can be realized in translation: the information load is too great, as I have already said, and the information is coded in textual features that make inconsistent and irreconcilable demands on the translator. There is an analogue on the linguistic level. Because of differences and incongruities in the obligatory features of any two languages, translation inevitably involves linguistic loss and gain, and it is not possible to capture every linguistic feature of the source text, either in its paradigmatic or its syntagmatic levels.19 In the same way literary and cultural aspects of the text also make incompatible demands on the translator; choices must be made, and literary and cultural loss and gain, as well as linguistic loss and gain, also occur in translation. Scholarly translations with their

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metatranslation devices are able to convey more information to the reader, but all translators including scholarly ones select specific aspects of the metonymic relationship between text and literary system, or text and culture, to realize and to privilege. They ask, implicitly or explicitly, what larger wholes will the translation point to, stand for, be related to? Will the translation, for example, be primarily metonymic of the language of the source culture, of a generic convention in the source culture, of the value structure of the source culture, or of other cultural patterns conveyed by and through literature? A translator who foregrounds the translation as a window into a new language, importing or literally transferring lexis, syntax, and the like into the receptor language, is choosing to have the translation be metonymic primarily of words of the source language and the language as a whole and will downplay representing other metonymic aspects − such as those of genre − so as to make the information load manageable.20 Another translator who is interested in poetics may privilege the generic codes of the source text, preserving metonymies related to genre and form, while on a linguistic level playing fast and loose with the words of the text so as to adapt the text thoroughly to the linguistic norms of the receptor language. Pound’s translations of Chinese texts might be described as examples of the latter. The choice of which metonymies to preserve has much to do with the translator’s purpose, and the translator who wishes to challenge elements of the poetics of the receptor system will probably privilege metonymies of genre or form over those of content or language, while a translator who wishes to challenge the value structure, say, of the receptor audience will make different choices.21 But this is not the end of the question of metonymy in the translation of marginalized texts. The human tendency to assimilate the unknown to the closest known pattern must also be reckoned with. Unless the source text is resolutely exoticized or presented as alien (as might happen in war or in certain highly charged political contexts), a translation is shaped by the contours of the receiving culture. Even as metonymic aspects of a source text are stripped away in the translation process, a translation − a translation of a marginalized text into a dominant language, in particular − gets assimilated to existing metonymies in the receptor system. The translator consciously or unconsciously picks metonymies to evoke other than those of the source text, specifically the metonymies of the receptor literary system and language. This is what happens when a translator looks for a “dynamically equivalent” metre, for example. Similarly, the plot of the source text may be altered so as to facilitate assimilation between the plot of the translation with plots in the target culture; one early translation of The Dream of the Red Chamber, for example, made it into

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a love story. There may be a generic shift, such as the shift that occurs when the branches of the Welsh Mabinogi are assimilated to the genre of romance. Alternatively the vocabulary of the translated text may evoke passages in the literature of the target language and set up new intertextual resonances, or refer to and suggest elements of the receptor cultural field. In these various ways, the source text gets assimilated to existing structures in the receptor literary and cultural system; it is presented as a “rewriting” of elements of the receptor literary system, even as it brings with it some aspects that challenge the receiving system and that remain eccentric.22 The necessity of choice in translation − and the resulting metonymic nature of translations − can be illustrated by the translation challenges posed by a famous early Irish epigram. The following ninth-century quatrain, found in an early Irish metrical tract as an example of a specific poetic metre, presupposes an understanding of the material culture, the social organization, and the values of early Ireland, as well as of many features of the early Irish literary system, including its poetic forms. The poem is edited by Gerard Murphy and provided with a literal prose translation as follows: Ro-cúala ní tabair eochu ar dúana; do-beir a n-í as dúthaig dó, bó. I have heard that he gives no steeds for poems; he gives what is native to him, a cow. (1956:90-91)

In Irish the effect of the poem turns on the understanding that warriors are above the agrarian class in the early Irish class hierarchy, that warriors are noble whereas farmers are commoners, and that horses are associated with warriors and cows with the agrarian classes. Moreover, it is understood that poets are rewarded (both as a matter of custom and of law) for poems about the aristocracy with appropriate aristocratic gifts. This is a political poem criticizing a noble or prince, making the point that the man who should be generous, an aristocratic patron of poetry, is instead stingy and churlish. Rather than make the point in a tendentious manner, the poet elegantly uses figurative speech: the low-class nature of the man is indicated satirically by accusing the patron of giving a peasant animal rather than the noble horse as a reward for art. The poem makes its impact in part through its formalism. The verse form is syllabic (3, 8, 8, 1 syllables in the four lines respectively), organized as rhyming couplets. The satirical point of the content is emphasized by the rhyme

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(particularly linking dó, ‘to him’, and bó, ‘cow’) and by the short fourth line of the epigram: the catalectic line represents metrically, through the form of the verse itself, the patron’s stingy nature and the paucity of the poet’s reward. The line falls comically short of the normal metrical expectation of the final line of quatrains in most related metres (one syllable where eight would ordinarily be expected), just as the poet’s gift falls short of what might be expected in a normal transaction between poet and patron.23 This very short poem, thus, presupposes a great deal of background about how the culture works and should work, as well as familiarity with how literature works and should work. The poem is funny, elegant, condensed, formal, and it is also political, ideological, serious, even biting. This is the way of Irish tradition: the intertwining of humour and serious discourse within highly compressed and formal literary structures. At this point, before reading further, the reader can best appreciate the metonymic aspect of translations by actually stopping for five minutes or so to translate the Irish poem, identifying consciously a strategy for translating the medieval text into English. Better still, the reader can try two different translations, aiming at two different translation strategies and two different sets of choices. What becomes quickly clear in this exercise is that the compression of the Irish text makes it impossible to convey in an English translation all the cultural information presupposed by or inherent in the Irish quatrain and still maintain the metrical and generic aspects of the poem in translation. A translator must choose which aspects of the poem to privilege, which aspects to represent. The content of the poem can be translated in a fairly straightforward manner (as Murphy has done in his gloss translation), but either it must be assumed that the audience understands the economic, ideological, and literary significance of the passage, or else the background must be explained in some way, through a footnote or otherwise, for all but specialized audiences. Such sociological and literary explanations are common enough in translations of ancient material, but they present acute problems with respect to this text because the speech act and genre of the poem will be disrupted by the paratextual material: there is nothing more apt to kill a joke or a satire than explanation. Thus the translator faces a double bind: to explain the cultural material is to destroy the genre, but to preserve the genre is to leave the audience ignorant about the cultural specifics. The translator must also face the challenge of the intricate metrical structures; much of the meaning of the poem is embedded implicitly in the laconic form, rather than stated discursively. In fact, the preservation of the content in a non-poetic form represents only half the

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communication modalities and half the information of the Irish quatrain. Obviously, Murphy’s translation makes no attempt to convey the speech act, the poetics, or the communicative modalities of the quatrain: he has privileged other aspects of the text − namely syntax and lexis − and his translation is metonymic of linguistic rather than literary aspects of the quatrain. Other solutions to the translation puzzles posed by the poem indicate other hierarchies of choice, other communication values. Translators attempting to convey more of the metrical and humorous qualities of the Irish quatrain, deemphasizing exact matchings of syntax and lexis, have produced the following translations. I have heard He gives no horse for poets’ words. His gift will speak his nature true: Moo. James Marino, 1996 I have heard He changes no chargers for verse But tenders in terms he holds dear, Steer. Shannon Clark Pandolfi, 1994 I heard he proffers not horses for verse; only the ordinary: wow, A cow. Edwin Gentzler, 1994

In these versions the translators stress transposition of the metrical aspects of the poem, including the syllabic and rhyming constraints (sometimes substituting English half rhyme for the Irish rhyme in the medieval poem, or using alliteration instead of rhyme). Like Murphy, all these translators assume that the audience understands the cultural presuppositions behind the poem and they also preserve the general concept of the contrast of horses/cows, though not with the literalness found in Murphy’s rendition. But these translations also attempt to make the reader laugh through phonology, lexis, and shifts in register, thus privileging the speech act and genre of the Irish poem as well. Other strategies can also highlight the formal play of the Irish poem as the chief aspect of the poem to be transposed in translation. Such strategies might generate, for example, limericks, as actually happened in a workshop I led at the University of Warwick in the spring of 1996, where two translators chose limericks to signal the “Irishness” of the poem, its comic and epigrammatic

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qualities, and the syllabic nature of the Irish metrics, with one translator actually omitting the final expected rhyming word of his limerick to signal the absence conveyed by the catalectic final line of the medieval epigram. A similar strategy is represented by the following translation, where the fixed English form brings its own comic qualities. Roses are red, My boss is cheap Instead of a racehorse I got a sheep.

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, 1996

Here the translator takes more liberty with both form and content, choosing to convey the humour and the problematic patronage, as well as her perceived sense that the Irish poem has a “hack” quality to it, even as she retains a fixed metrical form in her translation, but she finds modern expressions of all these facets of the early Irish quatrain. Anthropological exactitude is abandoned, as it is in the following translation as well, where the translator chooses “a similar modern context of poetry and patronage”. We all agree that poetry will never lead to tenure. As you’d foresee they offered me a part-time job to lecture.

Donald Gjertson, 1995

In all of the foregoing translations, a metonymic ordering of linguistic, literary, and cultural aspects of the source text is evident. To return to the fundamental theoretical argument at hand, it should be emphasized that although the metonymic dimension of translating is particularly apparent in translations of marginalized texts, all translation is in fact a metonymic process. The types of mutually contradictory demands made on the translator by the Irish epigram would be equally the case with a French poem or a German poem or a Chinese poem, not to mention a theatrical text or a prose narrative, although the constraints might not be so starkly apparent as they are in the example we have considered. Catford notwithstanding, who speaks of “total translation” (1965:22 and passim), translations are always

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partial. There is never total or complete translation, and, as Venuti (1995:61) observes, “the translated text is irredeemably partial in its interpretation”. Translators must make choices, because no perfect homology is possible, not even in synonymy or intralingual paraphrase.24 Decisions are required in translation, because there is always loss and gain in moving between languages and between cultural discourses, because a translator cannot capture everything, because there are inconsistent demands on the translator, because there are limits on the practicable information load of the target text, and so forth. Translators select some elements, some aspects, or some parts of the source text to highlight and preserve; translators prioritize and privilege some parameters and not others; and, thus, translators represent some aspects of the source text partially or fully and others not at all in a translation. In any translation process, whether the source text is canonical or not, central or marginalized, from a dominant culture or a subaltern one, a partial encoding comes to represent the source text: certain aspects or attributes of the source text come to represent the entire source text in translation. By definition, therefore, translation is metonymic: it is a form of representation in which parts or aspects of the source text come to stand for the whole.25 Certain theoretical implications of the metonymics of translation challenge the principal approaches currently used to describe translations. Thus, for example, in his discussions of the descriptive study of translation − the sort of study constituted by the present investigations − Gideon Toury has suggested that the investigator needs to look for the norms governing the translations being described. In the translator’s initial norms Toury, following Even-Zohar, makes the distinction between adequate translations, which tend “to adhere to the norms of the original work”, the source text, and acceptable translations, which adhere “to the linguistic and literary norms of the target system”; Toury views these strategies as polar opposites, although he acknowledges that in practice there will generally be some combination of or compromise between the two extremes (Toury 1980:55, cf. 1995:56ff.). Once this initial norm is selected, Toury posits that the translator picks operational norms which govern the specific choices of his work. While this all sounds good in the abstract and in fact often offers useful tools for thinking about certain aspects of the process of translation, when we turn to actual translations, particularly translations of texts from marginalized cultures, the situation turns out to be much more messy. A translation may be radically oriented to the source text in representing certain aspects of the source text (hence in Toury’s terms the translation is adequate), but depart radically from the source text in other respects so as to assimilate to norms of the receiving culture (hence the translation is acceptable

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in Toury’s scheme). Indeed the urgency with which certain attributes of the text are represented may entail the silencing of other attributes totally, as will be seen in the following chapters. There is no single polarity that describes the orientation of a translation, no simple positioning along a linear continuum. The same sort of ambiguity and inconsistency is found in translations when we try to apply the other sorts of polarities that are commonly put forward to categorize translations: polarities such as literal and free, or formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence, or domesticating and foreignizing, or fluent and resistant.26 With respect to these typologies also, translations have selfcontradictory elements in their specific configurations: for example, a text that is “formally equivalent” in language might in virtue of the translation process lose the humour of the text and fail to convey the formal qualities of the humorous genre being translated, as occurs in the translation of the Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones. Cecile O’Rahilly’s translations of the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge are painfully literal in their transfer of the syntax of the early Irish texts, but she freely euphemizes the lexis (and thus radically elides the content, including the sexuality and the grotesque elements in the text, toning down the humour of the text, thus shifting the genre) and she homogenizes the register as well to a rather stiff receptor norm. What are we to do with this seeming breakdown of translation theory based on the conventional polarities used to discuss translation? In translation studies one sometimes despairs of being a Wittgensteinian fly trapped in a fly-bottle, waiting for the right philosopher to shew the way out. In darker moments one suspects that the vessel is in fact a Klein bottle. Binary schemes have increasingly come under attack in translation theory, and rightly so.27 The way in which metonymy operates in retellings and refractions offers insights about the refractions we call translations; attention to the metonymics of translations helps to explain seeming inconsistencies and selfcontradictions that appear in specific translations and specific translation strategies.28 In an attempt to avoid information overload while at the same time honouring the fact that a text does represent its culture and literary tradition, all translators make significant compromises, orienting the translated text differentially in two directions simultaneously. It is the metonymic selection of specific attributes to preserve and to relinquish, to assimilate and to resist, to abandon and to construct, that principally characterizes the initial translation norms of all texts − marginalized texts in particular − more than the standard polarities that are usually discussed in translation theory. These decisions about the metonymics of the target text in turn determine the operational norms, often in complex and seemingly inconsistent ways as the irreconcilable demands

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of the source text are negotiated. To use the terminology of James Holmes (1994:81-91), the question of metonymy structures the map determining the specific transfer rules between source text and target text. Holmes himself moved away from an analysis based on a single pair of polar opposites to a more satisfactory multi-dimensional model of translation using several pairs of opposites and graphing translation choices simultaneously according to several parameters; this model (1994:49, cf. 3544, 81-98) permits one to see more clearly both the complexity of translators’ choices and the seeming inconsistencies in these choices. Though it is a step in the right direction, Holmes’s model is still dependent on strategic binarisms. By contrast, the map a translator constructs is typically a highly personalized one rather than a simplistic either/or map and it involves a specific hierarchy of objectives, thus often resulting in a translation that does not neatly fit any of the convenient dichotomies that figure so prominently in discussions of translation theory. An awareness of the metonymics of translated texts makes it possible to analyze translations more precisely than do the sorts of larger and relatively inoperable classifications of translation strategies that are generally proposed in the literature on translation.29 At the same time, the metonymies of translation are a key to the construction of the representations that translations project – whether they are representations of history, culture, values, or literary form. The metonymics of a translation are, thus, not simply of abstract interest. They cast an image of the source text and the source culture; they have political and ideological presuppositions and impact; they function in the world. For the receiving audience the translation metonymically constructs a source text, a literary tradition, a culture, and a people, by picking parts, aspects, and attributes that will stand for wholes. Such metonyms of translation play a part in establishing a symbolic order within which a people is construed or even construes itself.30 As will be seen in the following chapters, metonymies are key to the taming of the “wild Irish” and the freeing of the “wild Irish” that was played out in the translations of Ireland’s medieval literary heritage into English in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Notes to Chapter 1 1. Venuti 1992:7; cf. Venuti 1995:17, 24, 72. Hermans (1993:73-75) argues that nonetheless there are ontological differences between translations and other literary texts; cf. Gorlée 1994:171, 175. Various approaches to intertextuality are summarized in Plett (1991); and Worton and Still (1990). The concept of intertextuality was proposed by Kristeva in her seminal essay “Word, Dialogue, and Novel” (1966), and reconsidered and redefined by her in later essays (esp. 1984:59-60). Venuti (1992:7-8, 6869, 161) discusses the relationship of intertextuality to translation studies. See also Paz 1971:9-19; Derrida 1985. 2. See, for example, the discussions in Lefevere 1985:232-41; 1982a:12-20; 1992b:chs. 1, 9-12. Lefevere (1985:234) notes that translations are generally accompanied by other sorts of rewriting, notably “by an introduction, which is a form of criticism cum interpretation”. 3. Important studies on metonymy as it affects linguistic and literary studies include Roman Jakobson, “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances” (1956), and David Lodge, The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Typology of Modern Literature (1977). See also Lakoff and Johnson 1980:ch. 8, where it is argued that while metaphor primarily facilitates understanding, metonymy facilitates understanding but also serves a referential function. Noting that “there are many parts that can stand for the whole ... which part we pick out determines which aspect of the whole we are focusing on”, they observe that like metaphors, metonymies are not random or arbitrary, but systematic (1980:36-37). One might argue that a translation functions as an elaborate reference to its source text; moreover, as will be argued throughout this study, the metonymic aspects of translations are not random, but systematic. In the application of the concept of metonymy to literary studies, it should be noted that here the term whole when applied to a text does not imply a view of the text as a coherent and unified entity; rather a literary whole can be thought of as an open system or open set of signs (which in turn can be organized into subsystems or subsets) that is heterogeneous in type and only partially realized by any one reader or even, in fact, by the writer. 4. On these issues see Lord [1960] 1964:ch. 5 and passim. 5. Bettleheim ([1976] 1977:277-310) discusses the animal groom cycle. 6. Delargy (1945) discusses these and other aspects of Irish oral tradition. A version of the Finn tale in question is included in Curtin [1890] 1975:148-56. 7. I am using myth in the broad sense of ‘a traditional tale’; in this sense it encompasses most oral traditional tales and a very large segment of written narratives as well. 8. See, for example, Campbell’s (1949) study of the archetypal patterns behind hero tales, as well as Neumann’s (1955) treatment of archetypes related to narratives about female figures. 9. On various versions of the Ulysses myth and their relationship, see the classic study by William Bedell Stanford, The Ulysses Theme (1954).

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10. The familiarity of twelfth-century audiences with Virgil’s Aeneid is discussed by Haskins ([1927] 1957:104-7). 11. E.g. for all of Greek myth or all of Celtic myth. 12. Thus, recognition and knowledge of myths is an example of the hermeneutic circle. 13. As in the case of rewriting myths, a writer can also manipulate or subvert formal elements, shifting the formalism, and still metonymically evoke the form as a whole. 14. Clearly the metonymics of literature has implications as well for larger epistemological questions about cultural representations. 15. A discussion of these issues in relationship to postcolonial literature is found in M. Tymoczko 1999. 16. Using a coder-decoder model, Eugene Nida (1964:120-40) gives one way of conceptualizing the problems of translating the heavy information load of an unfamiliar text or text type for a receptor audience; see esp. the diagrams on p. 131. 17. See also M. Tymoczko 1990. 18. Lakoff and Johnson 1980:chs. 18-19; Mitter 1987:8-14 and sources cited; Eoyang 1993:125ff., 187; cf. Jakobson 1959:234-35. The tendency to assimilate the unfamiliar to the familiar is a principal factor behind the phenomenon of the simplification of complex and innovatory literary models discussed in EvenZohar 1990:21-22; cf. Toury 1991:187ff. Said observes, “It is perfectly natural for the human mind to resist the assault on it of untreated strangeness; therefore cultures have always been inclined to impose complete transformations on other cultures”; grids and codes are imposed “upon raw reality, changing it from freefloating objects into units of knowledge” ([1978] 1979:67). See also Basso 1990:intro., chs. 2, 4. 19. See, for example, Catford (1965) on these points; cf. Toury 1980:59. 20. We should note the importance of translations for the linguistic expansion of any language, but particularly of minority languages. Such privileging of language per se is, therefore, not to be dismissed as a useless, foolish, or trivial strategy. Latin translations of Greek works served this function as Cicero acknowledges explicity (see the discussion in Bassnett and Lefevere 1990:23-24), and additional examples of translation as a means of developing national languages are found in Delisle and Woodsworth 1995:ch. 2. Cf. also the arguments of Oksaar (1978) and Denison (1978), as well as those of Benjamin (1969) and Derrida (1985). A similar translation strategy is often also chosen by philological translators who use translations as a sort of extended linguistic commentary on texts, as well as by nationalists who wish to translate while at the same time privileging the language of the source texts. Eoyang’s (1993:145ff., 192ff.) concepts of coeval and contingent translations both in different ways privilege or foreground linguistic codes per se. 21. Lefevere (1992b:41) argues that the image cast by a translation is a function of the ideology and the poetics of the receptor culture. He also notes (1992b:100) that the poetics of the receiving culture may force the privileging of some illocutionary effects at the expense of others. This is to sketch the

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22.

23.

24.

25.

26. 27.

Translation in a Postcolonial Context situation in broad strokes; the situation is considerably more complex as the specific examples below will indicate. On translations as models and, hence, partial approximations, see Hermans 1993. Levý (1967) discusses the multiplicity of choices initially open to a translator, and the ways in which any single value will dictate a path of translation with a concomitant narrowing of options thereafter. Cf. Gorlée 1994:ch. 4, who applies game theory to translation; the strategy or heuristic with which the game is approached, as well as Levý’s idea of initial choice which determines others thereafter, can be compared to the choice of metonymies I have discussed here. One aspect that Levý and Gorlée underestimate, however, is the extent to which choices made, heuristics adopted, or metonymies privileged are shaped by the ideology and poetics of the receptor context of the translation. Constraints in the interpretive process are not just internal, linguistic, or expedient, but also public, cultural, and political. Cf. Hermans 1991, 1993, 1996; Shuttleworth and Cowie 1997:113-14; and refs. cited. Lefevere (1992b:chs. 6-8) offers examples of the process. Cultural metonymies of the receiving culture can be introduced in translations by words suggesting elements of the material culture of the receiving audience either overtly or through semiosis, for example. The metre of the epigram is called deibide baisse fri tóin in the Middle Irish metrical tract where the quatrain occurs (Murphy 1961:69), a term we might translate as ‘slap-on-the-butt deibide’; the formal corollary to the theme was therefore apparently a recognized gambit of satirical poetry. Jakobson 1959:233; Steiner 1978:39-40; Bolinger 1977; S. Ross 1981:12; and Gorlée 1994:ch. 9, esp. 181. Cf. Van den Broeck 1978. Snell-Hornby (1988:13-22) and Shuttleworth and Cowie (1997:49-51) discuss the history of the discourse about equivalence in translation studies. At the same time, of course, because the translation itself develops new contextures and new metonymies referring to the receiving culture, it becomes a new literary entity, beginning new chains of semiosis. Hermans (1993:76ff.) takes up a similar line of thought, observing that translation is a partial approximation. See also Gorlée 1994. Because no “total translation” is possible, a metonymic approach is relevant to understanding other sorts of translations and interpretations as well, including musical interpretations, live presentations of performance genres, readings of texts across time, and so forth. Thus, insights gained from a metonymic theory of interlingual literary or textual translation can be extended to and provide a model for the way we think of families (as Wittgenstein would call them) of interpretations, performances, or readings. On the distinction between formal equivalence and dynamic equivalence see Nida 1964:159-78 and M. Tymoczko 1985a; see Venuti (1995, 1992) and sources cited on domesticating/foreignizing and fluent/resistant. Cf. Bassnett 1992; these criticisms within translation theory are related to larger rethinkings of binarisms, including criticisms of the binarisms of structuralism. See also Bourdieu 1977 for examples.

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28. Thus, I take issue with Vermeer’s (1994:13) claim that priority is given to one sole factor in translation. 29. Clearly the balance between source and receptor metonymies also changes in patterned ways over time in the translation history of a text; cf. Bassnett and Lefevere 1990:5. This is a topic that is addressed below and that could be profitably explored at greater length through other case studies. 30. A clear example is found in Sengupta 1995.

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2. The Politics of Translating Táin Bó Cúailnge into English A heroic tale is more essentially a factor in education than a proposition in Euclid ... What the modern world wants more than anything else, what Ireland wants beyond all other modern countries, is a new birth of the heroic spirit. Patrick Pearse, “Back to the Sagas”

Irish patriotic movements in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries − whether those of the constitutionalists, the home-rule liberals, or the radical republicans − were all aimed at freeing Ireland from subservience to England. Ancillary to those political movements was a more diffuse attempt to escape from English cultural domination: to create, or recreate, Irish culture. The sense of cultural deracination in Ireland was a product of colonialism, as in many countries that have been colonized; Frantz Fanon ([1961] 1966:165-99) has written eloquently about the phenomenon. Exacerbated by the loss of the native language to most of the nation, a desire to create roots and to establish continuity marks cultural nationalism in Ireland at the period. In Ireland the necessity of asserting the existence of an Irish culture was heightened by the long history of discourse about “the wild Irish”, a discourse rooted in Renaissance views about civilized and uncivilized peoples and developed during the age of European discovery and conquest.1 In this paradigm Ireland’s land and its people were aligned “with barbarous countries far removed from civil life” (Hadfield and McVeagh 1994:15). These ideas obviously had practical implications for the appropriation of lands discovered and for assertions of power over the people in such lands: a stereotype of “wildness” enabled the colonizing process, by othering the land and its people; as a “wild” space with “wild people”, Ireland was viewed as “a land of potential wealth neglected by its inhabitants, a land asking to be taken over” (Hadfield and McVeagh 1994:16). Images of the Irish from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries represent the Irish as wild and brutish.2 The seventeenth century was a turning point in the relations between England and Ireland, a period of militant subjugation, in which legal dispossession reinforced the results of physical compulsion. By the end of the eighteenth century, as a result of more than two centuries of intense military and legal conquest, Ireland had been subjugated on a physical and military level by the English. Ireland was no longer seen by the English as a country to be tamed militarily; with war as such being essentially over, thereafter the English could

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consolidate their power through more diffuse cultural and discursive means. Indeed, after 1800, a turning point symbolized by the Union, the taming of the wild Irish depended as often on informal social controls as on formal ones. Alongside the constabulary and evictions and the educational system which stripped the people of their language and culture (“the murder machine” Patrick Pearse later called it), methods of dominance included stereotyping, derrogation, and racism. These means of dominance also included denial and denigration of Irish culture, suppression of cultural expression, and other means of cultural estrangement which had even been, in some cases, legislated by the Penal Laws. Moreover, from the seventeenth century on, sectarianism added a new mandate for cultural suppression, the mandate of conversion. Though English military control and Irish rebellion continued throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on the island as a whole, domination and resistance were in-creasingly played out in the cultural sphere. Translation was one such domain. By the end of the eighteenth century, these varied perspectives on Ireland had resulted in English stereotypes of the Irish that were sharply etched: the Irish were animalistic, uncivilized, irrational, musical, happy and melancholic, violent and gentle, lazy and able to work like blacks, ignorant and cunning drunkards. L. P. Curtis (1971:94-95) notes the contradictions in the stereotypes; the political implication was that the Irish were so ambivalent and inconsistent that they could not know what they wanted in political institutions and could not be trusted to establish political consistency and order (L. Curtis 1968:54ff.).3 The Irish were seen as incapable of culture and self government, able to offer few cultural monuments to lay beside the long tradition of English literature. Indeed, as the litany above suggests, the Irish were perceived in much the same way blacks have been in American culture.4 Throughout the nineteenth century English stereotyping accelerated, deepened by nineteenth-century ideas about race (including the racial opposition between the Anglo-Saxons and the Celts), and by the second half of the century the dominant image of the “wild Irish” had become simianized (L. P. Curtis 1971). Before an Irish political movement could be forged, these varied attitudes had to be confronted and shifted, at least within Ireland; it was in this context that Irish cultural nationalism took shape. A new and more noble cultural image of the Irish was needed, and the Romantic view of Celtic culture worked to such ends. The closing decades of the eighteenth century saw the first efforts to change English stereotypes of the Irish, to unearth and make public Ireland’s cultural heritage, to establish the Irish as a morally upright nation, the simple but dignified and noble guardians of an ancient world view. Begun by amateur antiquarians and translators in the eighteenth century, including Charlotte

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Brooke whose Reliques of Irish Poetry was published in 1789, the work was in full swing by the 1830s. John O’Donovan was mapping the antiquities of Ireland for the Ordnance Survey, George Petrie was investigating Ireland’s ecclesiastical architecture, Eugene O’Curry was doing research among the ancient manuscripts. It was soon clear that insofar as the Middle Ages went, at least, it was Ireland not England that had the richer and older cultural heritage. Ireland could point to a monastic tradition that lay behind many of the great European foundations and that was responsible for missions to the AngloSaxons as well. Irish culture could boast of a plethora of annals and historical materials reaching back to the fifth or sixth century, a very early codified legal corpus, and a mountain of imaginative literature that dwarfed early English literary remains.5 But as William Irwin Thompson points out, just as important as the actual materials collected was the particular idea of Irish history that was beginning to emerge in Irish archaeology. The past [was] perceived to be a realm of value that gives meaning and directives to the present, and the survivor of this past, the peasant, [was] seen to be a noble creature whose veins contain the blood of a lost kingdom, of a kingdom older and more noble than Great Britain. Not surprisingly, the English were not oblivious to the nationalistic power of such historical scholarship; as the facts began to gather around the hypothesis that there was a civilization in Ireland long before the English could boast of one, the government stopped its subsidy for the [Ordnance] Survey in 1840. ([1967] 1972:12-13)

The idea of a golden age from which a people had fallen was a common stereotype used to justify colonization in such places as India and Egypt, and antiquarianism in these areas bolstered the process of political and military oppression, as Said (1978) has argued so vigorously (cf. Niranjana 1992: ch. 1). In Ireland, by contrast, the antiquarian movement was able in large measure to be harnessed by the nationalist movement, in part because the cultural movement was directed by the values of Romanticism and participated in the developments of nineteenth-century nationalism in Europe as a whole and in part because many of the antiquarians were themselves Irish or sympathetic to the Irish, generally working in an Irish cultural milieu. Thus, as we have seen, Ireland’s cultural trajectories are both similar to those of other colonialized nations and also dissimilar. The literary and cultural movement in Ireland came to the fore after the fall of Parnell in 1890 when, to quote Thompson again, “the best Irish minds turned away [from politics] in disappointment and disgust and began to think on national destiny in the realm of

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imagination” ([1967] 1972:31).6 Politics were in some respects sublimated into literary activity and the growth of nationalism was played out in the field of culture. However, a problem for most nationalists with Ireland’s ancient literary heritage was that it was in Irish, and not even contemporary Irish at that, but Old Irish and Middle Irish. Early Irish is both a difficult language (considerably more so than Sanskrit or Classical Greek, for example) and a language that no one can be expected to know, a language not part of the normal linguistic repertory of the European educated classes. Translation was, thus, utterly necessary if the material was to be made available outside Ireland. Moreover, after the middle of the nineteenth century, most of the Irish population spoke English and was, thus, cut off linguistically from the native cultural heritage, in part as a result of the precipitous decline of the Irish language following the Famine.7 Yet, even facility in Modern Irish did not give access to the medieval heritage of Ireland, because of the profound differences between the early language and that of the modern period, and Modern Irish speakers themselves required translation of the early literary materials just as English speakers did. Accordingly, it is no surprise to find that throughout the nineteenth century and extending into the twentieth, a major aspect of Irish literary movements was the translation of Irish texts: translation that always had a political aspect to it because it was undertaken in the complex ideological context outlined above.8 Moreover, as will be discussed below in chapter 4, the controversy generated by Macpherson’s publications made translation a necessity; the cultural movement could not make do with literary adaptations alone. Only a literary movement based on authentic ancient texts could be adequately grounded for Ireland’s cultural and political purposes. Translation was not, of course, the only means aimed at validating or restoring Irish culture. Parallel to translation was the Irish language movement (which seized the popular imagination through Douglas Hyde’s Gaelic League), as well as movements intended to restore native customs (such as the Irish games promoted by the Gaelic Athletic Association). These movements were in turn reinforced by the growth of an Irish literary movement in English. Nonetheless, recovery of ancient texts and their translation was a cornerstone of the movement.9 In 1861 Eugene O’Curry − one of the great collectors of medieval Irish material, as already noted − opened his famous Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History with a brief summary of Táin Bó Cúailnge. He concluded his summary by saying: I am not acquainted with any tale in the whole range of our literature, in which [one] will find more of valuable details concerning general and

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Translation in a Postcolonial Context local history; more of description of the manners and customs of the people; of the druidical and fairy influence supposed to be exercised in the affairs of men; of the laws of Irish chivalry and honour; of the standards of beauty, morality, valour, truth, and fidelity, recognized by the people of old; of the regal power and dignity of the monarch and the provincial kings, as well as much concerning the division of the country into its local dependencies; lists of its chieftains and chieftaincies; many valuable topographical names, the names and kinds of articles of dress and ornament; of military weapons; of horses, chariots, and trappings; of leechcraft, and of medicinal plants and springs; as well as instances of, perhaps, every occurrence that could be supposed to happen in ancient Irish life: all of these details of the utmost value to the student of history, even though mixed up with any amount of the marvelous or incredible in poetical traditions. (1861:40-41)

One might suppose this was an urgent mandate for the immediate publication and translation of the tale. How then is it possible to explain that the first full English translation of a single version of Táin Bó Cúailnge appeared only in 1976?10 The fact is that Táin Bó Cúailnge (hereafter TBC) was an embarrassment. It could not be translated fully and accurately if the political aims to shift the image of the Irish and to display and embrace their ancient and noble culture were to be achieved. There are serious political problems with TBC as a document of cultural nationalism; one can sum up the problems somewhat irreverently by saying that the greatest Irish hero tale is unliterary, raunchy, and weird. First, the raunchiness. How can you claim a moral, noble, and dignified heritage for a people when their major heroic narrative shows (among other things) the chief hero Cú Chulainn squatting naked in the snow picking lice off his shirt; when it includes illicit sexual intercourse between Medb, the leader of the enemies, and one of her captains, Fergus (sexual relations approved of by her husband, Ailill); and when it ends with the same woman urinating or menstruating three lakes?11 That was merely the beginning of the problem. There are also segments of the text in which Finnabair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, is repeatedly bartered by her parents in order to get heroes to fight Cú Chulainn in single combat, episodes in which Medb offers “the companionship of [her] thighs” to various of her allies, and combats in which various heroes have unusual demises, including one who literally has the shit shaken out of him. The story is clearly sexual, scatological, and undignified. It is also deliberately humorous. Moreover, aside from features having to do with sexuality or scatology, TBC is definitely bizarre. TBC presupposes an archaic type of heroism: heroes

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at times go to battle naked or become subject to battle frenzy with attendant physical distortion, or they become so heated they must be popped into vats of cold water to cool them off. The old concept of the hero’s light is found, and the heroes are literally larger than life; indeed, gigantism is a recurrent feature of the text. The story has little of the high tone normally associated with Western epic and is not even set in motion by a dignified cause: it is not a war to reclaim a stolen wife, or a return trip home, or the founding of a nation, or man’s defence against Cain’s brood, or a crusade against the opponents of Christianity. The story is one of tribal warfare. It is about a raid to steal cows, and the hero stands alone against the rustlers because his king and comrades are writhing in bed with the pains of childbirth. The title alone is impossible, a joke, closer to titles of dime Westerns than epics: Táin Bó Cúailnge, literally ‘the driving off of the cows of Cúailnge’. Unusual social customs permeate the story, including fosterage and head hunting, and there is a good deal of supernatural material, including fits of gigantism during which heroes do things like chop off the tops of hills, and elements from Ireland’s pre-Christian religion are taken as matters of belief within the texts. Many of the unusual social features have to do with the socio-economic context of early Irish literature, which portrays a heroic, tribal, chiefdom culture in which cattle not coinage are the primary form of wealth. These various features of early Irish literature can be compared with similar cultural conditions associated with the literatures of many colonized peoples and, hence, with similar reception problems facing the indigenous literary traditions of various emerging nations; they are also, not so incidentally, typical of the cultural substrate in classical epic. Nonetheless, however one might justify Irish tales with comparative cultural perspectives, such features were barriers to the reception of TBC among English speakers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 12 As for being unliterary, TBC (like early Irish literature in general) is mainly in prose with relatively short verse insets: the tale represents a radical departure from the paradigmatic poetic narrative form of other classical and medieval European epics, as will be discussed at length in the next chapter. The prose of the story is itself uneven − though it is generally spare and understated, it can get quite florid at times. Four elements contrast with the ordinary narrative prose. There are two distinct types of verse: rhymed syllabic lines organized in regular stanzaic patterns and an archaic type of alliterative, cadenced verse (rosc, pl. roscada) which is usually found seriatim rather than in regular stanzas.13 In addition to the verse types there are also alliterative prose passages and passages of formulaic descriptions (some of which Slotkin [1977] has suggested may go back to oral formulaic verse). There are other literary anomalies

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as well. There are three main versions of the story that have significant and irreconcilable differences.14 There are inconsistencies and redundancies in plotting. The vocabulary is repetitious. In short, the story derives from oral hero tale, and the implications of oral tradition for the form (including, for example, the repetition and inconsistency) have only become apparent in the last few decades. To complicate matters further, the surviving medieval texts of TBC have several layers of manuscript tradition behind them, and accretions during the time in manuscript have resulted in such phenomena as uneven linguistic layering and doublets, as well as other textual disorders.15 Thus, for many reasons TBC did not meet the formal standards for epic in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was unliterary in the literal sense of the word. All in all, the story was not one to be taken up easily or gracefully by Victorian society. In its fullness it could not be acclaimed or applauded, and it is no wonder that in 1909 Richard Henebry claimed that TBC could not be translated (quoted in O’Leary 1994:226). The problems of content, tone, and form were all such that TBC could potentially confirm the stereotypes of the Irish as “wild”, “uncivilized”, and in need of “conversion”; by the standards of English literary canons, the ancient literature as a whole could be judged in these same ways. The irony of the situation is that many of the features of early Irish literature, cultural and literary features alike, that caused reception problems at the time, represent archaisms and derive from standard features of Indo-European culture, which, therefore, were part of the heritage of all the dominant cultures and languages of Europe as well as of Irish culture. Behind the history of the translation of TBC, however, lie these various problems, for in the end it is the greatest monument of early Irish heroic literature and out of it the nationalist claims had somehow to be made. How were translators to reclaim the national literature, reassert Irish culture, and yet make palatable the differences between the native tradition and colonial standards? The history of this process is a history of the taming of early Irish literature. Some of the problematic features of TBC are illustrated by the following passage. The hero Cú Chulainn has been slaughtering a hundred men each night with his sling. Ailill and Medb, the leaders of the raiding army, propose to offer single combat between one of their host and Cú Chulainn if Cú Chulainn will stop the nightly slaughter; should Cú Chulainn win, the army is to stay in place without advancing for a whole day. Fergus is sent to Cú Chulainn to propose the arrangement of single combat, and he is followed by Etarcomal, an arrogant foster son of Ailill and Medb. Though Etarcomal comes under Fergus’s protection, Fergus has pledged him to offer no insolence to Cú Chulainn. After Fergus concludes the negotiations with Cú Chulainn, however,

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Etarcomal remains behind and eventually insults Cú Chulainn. Cú Chulainn splits him to the navel, and Etarcomal’s charioteer heads back to camp alone. Co n-acci Fergus in carpat secha  in n-óenÃer and. Tintaí Fergus do debuid fri Coin Culaind. “Olc dait, a iriti,” ol sé, “mo díguin. Is garit mo lorg latt,” ol sé. “Nába lond frim / (a popa) Äergus” ol Cú Chulaind .r. “fri baga benai / (fri) náimtiu ascada cen claideb / fa allud (is hé) tororáid ar Ulad / aigid sceó slechtfa / ailtu tairbirt fo mám / Etarcomol úallaig dimrén / esbláthaib (in) neoch nam accae ar / bail uallchas fo chemdib / fíalum forsaid ligu / fortchi for charpat cotlud ná / longud ní sám lam / balcbrain ná fer aithber form/ (a popa) Äergus.” Talléci inna léchtain co ndechaid carpat Fergusa taris co fo thrí. “Iarfaig día araid in mé fódrúar.” “Náthú écin,” ar a ara-som. “Asrubairt,” ol Cú Chulaind, “ní regad co rrucad mo chend-sa nó co fárcbad-som dano a chend lem-sa. Cia de bad assu lat-su, a popa Äergus?” or Cú Chulaind. “Is assu ém lem-sa a ndorónad,” ar Fergus, “úair iss éseom ropo úallach.” Atnaig Fergus íarom id n-erchomail tria a dí pherid  berthi i ndead a charpait fadessin don dúnud. In tan no théiged tar carrce, no scarad a leth ó alailiu. In tan ba réid, conrictís affrissi. Danécai Medb. “Ní boíd ind imbert moíthchulióin sin, a Äergus,” ol Medb. “Ní tocrád dam dano in t-athechmatud,” ol Fergus, “glieid frisin coin móir nád n-argarad.” Fergus saw Etarcomal’s chariot go past him then with only one man in it. Fergus turned to fight with Cú Chulainn. “It was bad of you to dishonour me, you sprite,” he said. “You think my club is short.” Cú Chulainn said, “Don’t rage at me

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Translation in a Postcolonial Context father Fergus for boasts you strike enemies stealing gifts without sword work a raid rushed through Ulster and I will hew down fosterlings I brought Etarcomal under the yoke the haughty one pays me with death’s flowers he watched me win here pride shielded me against those fey used to lying on chariot cushions neither sleeping nor eating the mighty raven’s hand is not peaceful don’t blame me father Fergus.” He fell on his face and Fergus’s chariot drove across him three times. “Ask his charioteer whether I caused it.” “Not at all,” said Etarcomal’s charioteer. “He said he would not go until he carried off my own head or until he left his head with me. Which of the two would you take, father Fergus?” asked Cú Chulainn. “I would take what happened,” Fergus said, “for he was arrogant.” Fergus stuck a cattle-band through Etarcomal’s shanks and dragged the body toward camp behind his own chariot. When he went over rocks, the halves separated. When it was flat, they came back together again. Medb saw that. “Fergus, that puppy’s play is no joke,” she said. “In my opinion the mongrel shouldn’t have challenged the great hound whom he couldn’t match,” Fergus answered.16

The passage exemplifies thematic and generic difficulties posed by TBC. The epic hero is hardly dignified here: though triumphant, the great Cú Chulainn prostrates himself beneath his foster father’s iron chariot tires. The grotesque in TBC is represented by the reduction of Etarcomal to a bloody mass; the

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goriness is highlighted comically by having the halves of the corpse flap back and forth on the way to camp. Obviously both the hero and his victim are presented humorously rather than with solemnity, and the humour is slapstick and macabre. In fact, this is the stuff of Tom-and-Jerry cartoons, not most epics. Yet the sequence is not mock heroic. There is a serious point made about pride and boasting and, although Cú Chulainn gets run over by Fergus and although Medb calls him a “puppy”, the hero is also the “great hound” who can’t be matched. That latter estimation sums up the episode. The treatment of heroes and heroism here interlocks with the formal problems illustrated by the passage. The poem offers some insurmountable linguistic difficulties, not the least of which is its partially obscured metrical structure. Nonetheless, the poem cannot be ignored, for the elevated, ritualistic, formal poetic utterance is essential in maintaining the balance between humour and awe in the passage. If the poem is omitted, neither the distinct form nor the tone of Irish hero tale can emerge adequately in translation, yet the poem is difficult to translate − linguistic difficulties aside − because such mantic, asyntactic poetry is unusual and unfamiliar to most readers of Western literature. This passage also illustrates the problems posed by the textual tradition of TBC. The passage translated above is from Lebor na hUidre (LU), the earliest manuscript of TBC. The version in the Book of Leinster (LL), a manuscript only some fifty years later, is quite different in both events and tone. In the Book of Leinster, for example, Cú Chulainn speaks no poem, he does not prostrate himself before Fergus or get run over by the chariot, and Etarcomal’s halves do not flap back and forth (though there is equivalent gore in the passage, insofar as pieces of Etarcomal stick to rocks on the trip back to camp). The later version is less slapstick and more sober, and the dialogue is more discursive, but it lacks the powerful, if problematic, poem. Which version is to be chosen for translation? Ten major English translations of the early texts of TBC were published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and they shed light on the issues under consideration.17 1. W. K. Sullivan18 published an edition and translation of “The Fight of Ferdiad and Cuchulaind” in an appendix to his edition of Eugene O’Curry’s On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish (Dublin, 1873), volume 3.411-63. This was the first published translation of a major section of TBC. Sullivan chose to translate the fight between Cú Chulainn and his foster brother Fer Diad. Following O’Curry whose textual transcription and other materials pertaining to TBC he used, Sullivan set a pattern for later translators in choosing the Book of Leinster version

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of the tale and in focusing on the tragic Fer Diad section, offering an apologia for this decision in his brief introduction to the text (1873:3.413). Noting that he expected to see the whole of the tale published soon, Sullivan offered the following explanation of his purposes: “ ... the object the Editor has ... in publishing this episode is to give an example of true Gaedhelic poetry, as distinguished from the inferior modernized legends and the confused jumble of traditions of various periods which Macpherson and others have fused together ... ” (1873:3.413). By restricting the extent of his translation, Sullivan was able to avoid most of the burlesque and most of the sexual material found in TBC, as well as many of the other problems of tone. The formal and literary problems he faced in translating were also mitigated because there are relatively few redundancies and inconsistencies in the Fer Diad section and because the prose in the passage is even in tone and the poetry is extensive and well distributed. Moreover, the passage has comparatively few linguistic obscurities. 2. Eleanor Hull included a version of TBC in The Cuchullin Saga (London, 1898), pp. 109-227, under the title “The Cattle-spoil of Cooley”. The book was the first compendium of translations into English of the major tales in the Ulster Cycle; the tales were translated by a variety of scholars, and it was Standish Hayes O’Grady who prepared the section on TBC. Hull attempted to arrange the stories in a “chronological” order based on her interpretation of the events found in the various tales of the cycle, and her book therefore suggests more order and consistency than actually exist in the medieval texts. All the texts included in this book are relatively close translations except TBC, which is a synopsis. The latter is described in the introductory note as an “analysis” of the tale, rather than “a critical translation”, as it appears in a manuscript of 1800 (British Museum Additional 18748), which is said to follow the movement of the tale in LL (1898:110). The version is presented as “a sufficiently full and close reproduction of the original to answer all the purposes of the non-critical reader”, and it is intended for English readers rather than Irish scholars (1898:110); the fact that it was prepared by Standish Hayes O’Grady,19 the noted editor and translator of the compendium Silva Gadelica, suggests a close adherence to the medieval text and lends authority to the version. Hull’s compendium reprints sections of Sullivan’s translation of the fight with Fer Diad in LL. The format of this presentation of TBC allowed Hull to gloss over or avoid most of the problematic elements in the text, both in terms of content and form, and yet still claim to offer a close transposition of the Irish text. 3. Augusta Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne (London, 1902) appeared with a version of TBC included under the rubrics of three successive chapters entitled “The War for the Bull of Cuailgne” [sic], “The Awakening of Ulster”, and “The Two Bulls” (pp. 141-209). Like Hull, Gregory presented in her book a compendium of

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the major texts of the Ulster Cycle, but unlike Hull she made little attempt to be scholarly or to present close textual equivalents. The book is a monument of the Irish literary revival: its primary purpose is to kindle the imagination and promote a knowledge of Irish literature among the general English-speaking public. The materials are woven together into an integrated structure with a definite and consistent timeline that takes Hull’s chronological orderings one step further. Gregory’s prose style, specifically her use of the Kiltartan dialect of Hiberno-English, gives the language of the translation currency, vitality, and a distinctly Irish quality. Because the focus of the work was in many ways on language itself, Gregory frequently paraphrased. Indeed one might claim with some justice that she was retelling the stories rather than translating. In the case of TBC, she worked from manuscript translations in the Royal Irish Academy and synopses (including the one in Hull) rather than from the early Irish texts.20 Her sources and her mode of translation permitted her (like Hull) to gloss over indelicate elements and to understate offensive passages. She also showed no hesitation to abridge the text and her version is heavily weighted toward the Fer Diad section of TBC. Though she translated many of the text’s poems, she represented them as prose dialogue rather than as verse. Thus, she neatly side-stepped the formal issues presented by the mixture of poetry and prose in early Irish literature. 4. The first resemblance to a close scholarly translation of TBC in English was published by Winifred Faraday in The Cattle-Raid of Cualnge (London, 1904). To her credit Faraday chose the earliest and most archaic version of the story to translate (the version in LU and YBL). Though her work represents scholarly progress in some respects, as a linguist she was inadequate to the task of translating the difficult early text of TBC. There are numerous translation errors and the translation is far from complete. Faraday omitted large sections of the text, including many poems; thus, the formal qualities of the story are partially obscured. The translation gets progressively less complete toward the end. Not surprisingly the lacunae in her translation subsume much of the objectionable content of the tale as well as various troublesome inconsistencies and redundancies. Though the language of Faraday’s translation is straightforward, it is also literal and flat. The academic diction often serves to obscure the startling elements in the tale. 5. A. H. Leahy, Heroic Romances of Ireland (2 vols., London, 1905-06), gives a version of the Fer Diad section of TBC under the title “The Combat at the Ford” in the first volume of his publication, pp. 111-59. More so than his predecessors, Leahy addressed the formal problems posed by early Irish literature and attempted to claim the form of Irish hero tales as one of Ireland’s cultural achievements. He insisted that the poetry be fully translated, including the archaic verse called rosc or rhetoric; he also attempted in his translations to recapture some of the beauty

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and distinctiveness of Irish poetic metres.21 Nonetheless, Leahy was able to avoid the most acute reception problems of the content and tone of TBC in particular by allowing the Fer Diad episode to stand for TBC as a whole. His language is diametrically opposed to Gregory’s homey Irish dialect: Leahy uses an archaizing high style reminiscent of Tennyson’s language or the language of William Morris’s translations of Icelandic sagas. 6. In some ways The Táin (Dublin, 1907) by Mary A. Hutton22 is a predictable response to the formal problems presented by Irish heroic literature. That is, instead of suppressing the poetry (Hull), or translating it as prose (Gregory), or attempting to represent the formal alternation of verse and prose (Leahy), Hutton assimilated the Irish form to established European standards for epic, namely narrative poetry. Thus, she gave a verse translation, rendering everything, including the prose, into uniform blank verse. Because the work is divided into “books” and includes formulaic phrases (not always found in the source text), the translation has a Homeric ring. Hutton used LL as her base manuscript and translated more of the text than did any of her predecessors. However, she freely inserted material from the earlier recension of TBC and from other tales of the Ulster Cycle as a whole, weaving the stories together into a connected epic narrative, in part through the use of flashbacks and digressions. Her treatment of the sources permitted gross changes in the content of TBC. Moreover, her elevation of the form of TBC is matched by similar alterations in the story line. Thus, she eliminated most of the scatological and sexual episodes as well as the humour, while filling in the tale with noble, heroic, or tragic stories from other parts of the cycle. The material was rationalized, inconsistencies were removed, unusual customs often passed over. The tone was also changed entirely by the invention of revenge as the motive for the raid. As a result of these various features, Hutton’s translation gives a version of TBC that conforms to established canonical standards for classical and medieval epic. Where earlier translators used suppression and selection as the means to solve the problems posed by TBC, Hutton expanded and embroidered, forcing the content and form into a non-Irish literary mould, satisfying the generic requirements of the dominant English-language literary system. It is perhaps no surprise that Hutton’s rendition of TBC became the most popular version at St. Enda’s, Pearse’s school for young nationalists (O’Leary 1994:254 n.125). 7. Joseph Dunn’s translation, The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó Cúalnge (London, 1914), served for half a century as the principal scholarly version of TBC in English. Dunn, a professor at Catholic University in Washington, D. C., followed the work of Ernst Windisch, whose German edition and literal translation of the complete LL text of the Irish story had appeared in 1905. Dunn’s version did not

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omit or suppress text as his predecessors had done in their English translations: virtually all of the LL text is translated in Dunn’s text. The most obvious feature of this translation is, in fact, that it misrepresents TBC by including too much: major variants and passages from all three independent recensions of the story are included, as well as the bons mots of half a dozen manuscripts. Thus, Dunn multiplied inconsistencies and redundancies and yet at the same time suggested a more polished and ornamented text than that found in any of the early Irish recensions. Indeed, because he included so much, moving from one manuscript to the next, it is practically impossible for a reader without access to the source texts to determine from this translation what the LL version of the tale is really like. In the end Dunn’s text does not give English readers a representative rendition of any version of TBC.23 Still, there is much of interest in Dunn’s translation. Notwithstanding his omission of many roscada, Dunn made a reasonable attempt to preserve the formal qualities of early Irish literature by maintaining the alternation between prose and poetry and by translating all the syllabic poems as poetry. Moreover, more of the content appeared than ever before in English, including the problematic passages discussed above. Dunn presented the irony, sexual material, supernatural events, and unusual social customs in Táin Bó Cúailnge, even though their impact was muted by his twisted archaizing English. 8. From a purely academic perspective, Cecile O’Rahilly, Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster (Dublin, 1967) did more adequately what Dunn had ostensibly attempted to do: to give an English translation of the LL text of TBC. Her translation appears following a new edition of the twelfth-century text, rather than in a facing format. Strangely, O’Rahilly − a noted scholar of early Irish literature − did not fulfill the simple scholarly requirement of completeness: she did not translate some of the most interesting though difficult passages of the text, the archaic roscada. O’Rahilly’s translation has become the standard quoted by scholars, but the translation is at times so literal and flat that it is difficult for the imagination to get a purchase on the story. O’Rahilly undertook a translation of a literary work, but did not produce a literary translation. Though she did not suppress the sexual or scatological elements in the text, she muted these passages by translating them in the most modest language that could be found, controlling her English lexis by choosing euphemisms or the most understated of available English synonyms. The formal complexity of the early Irish text is also undercut by her prose renditions of the poetry, though it might be argued that this gap in the translation is relieved by the ostensible presence of the poetry in the edition of the Irish text that precedes the translation. 9. The Táin (Dublin, 1969) by the eminent Irish poet Thomas Kinsella stands in

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the line of popular translations of TBC, but it marks a radical shift in the translation of early Irish material from both a formal and a thematic point of view. Kinsella’s translation of TBC appears as the central text (pp. 51-253) in a collection of translations consisting of TBC preceded by tales whose action antedates that of TBC. Many of these ancillary tales are identified as remséla, ‘foretales’, of TBC in the early Irish tale lists. Kinsella is the first English translator of TBC to represent many of the challenging aspects of the content: to undertake a dynamic transposition of the sexual and grotesque elements of the tale, as well as the bizarre cultural and tonal background to the story. It is significant in this respect that he chose to translate the archaic LU version of TBC. Rather than back away from what I have called the raunchy and weird elements of the story, his translation if anything glories in and highlights the very things that made the text problematic to earlier English-language translators. Kinsella even borrows readings from other recensions to foreground these elements of TBC. Kinsella was equally bold with the formal challenges of the text. Unlike O’Rahilly he attempted even the most difficult passages of rosc and adapted the twentieth-century poetic “stepped line” to capture the staccato structure, the word break before the cadence, and the syntactic ambiguity of this archaic Irish poetic type. All the poetry in his translation is moving as only a good poet can make it. In addition, Kinsella’s pithy and clever language captures the wit of early Irish literature, and he reflects the varied tone of the story instead of attempting to force it into a uniformly high or tragic style. He also permits some oral variants and inconsistencies to stand in the translation: thus, he is able to incorporate certain “unliterary” aspects of the text within the framework of a literary translation. Like most of his predecessors, however, Kinsella found it hard to stick to one version of the tale, as we have already seen. He filled in the lost opening of LU with the opening of the later LL version and borrowed other passages from LL, including salacious material at the end of the story, which makes the ending of his translation racier than it is in any medieval Irish version. Moreover, some redundant episodes from LU were relegated to the footnotes rather than being included in the main body of the translation. As a result, like some of the earlier translations, his translation conforms more to modern literary standards than does the Irish text, and the earthy content appeals to modern taste as well. 10. In her scholarly treatment of TBC, Cecile O’Rahilly published the earliest and most difficult version of the text last: Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension I (Dublin, 1976). Many of the comments about her translation of the LL version apply here also. It is particularly noteworthy that the translation does not represent the formal qualities of the Irish source text; the poetry is again all translated as prose. Compared to the standards set by Kinsella, the prose is prolix and the diction euphemistic, particularly in sexual or scatological passages. Though her translation is more literal

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than Kinsella’s, it is also often less faithful to the tone and effect of the Irish narrative.24 However, compared to her earlier work there are some significant changes: O’Rahilly attempted the roscada and translated the prose somewhat less literally. O’Rahilly’s translation of the LU version of TBC is intended as a scholarly accompaniment to an edition, and within that context it serves its purpose: to give a complete, accurate (and modest), close translation of a single version of TBC. That simple goal was fulfilled in English for the first time some seventy years after Windisch’s translation did the same in German.

It is worth digressing a moment to consider briefly the German translation of Táin Bó Cúailnge published in 1905 by Ernst Windisch. Windisch prepared an edition of the LL text with a facing literal German translation; his work also includes notes containing the texts and translations of some of the major variants of the other two recensions of TBC. The edition is accompanied by an extensive introduction, a critical apparatus, enormous commentary, and a sizeable glossary. The fact that a full German translation of TBC appeared as early as 1905 indicates that the barrier to publishing and translating the tale in English was not the textual or linguistic difficulty of the Irish text, nor was it the offensiveness of the content to turn-of-the-century audiences.25 In the German culture area where translating TBC had few direct social, ideological, or political consequences, the text could be fully presented: both content and form could be represented with a seeming “objectivity”. Certainly after Windisch the lack of “faithfulness” of the English translations cannot be attributed to incapacities in linguistic or scholarly facility, because English translators could simply have translated Windisch’s German. The case of TBC reinforces Lefevere’s (1992b:52) contention that lack of faithfulness in translation is seldom simply a case of linguistic difficulty or linguistic competence. In the case at hand we must seek an explanation for the translation record of TBC in the charged ideological context of English colonialism and Irish nationalism. Let us return for a moment to the Etarcomal passage translated above. It can be used as a touchstone to compare the ten translations under discussion. Sullivan and Leahy avoid the problems posed by the episode by omission − a consequence of restricting the scope of their work to the Fer Diad story. By translating the more sober LL version of TBC, Dunn and O’Rahilly (1967) similarly avoid most of the problems of content and tone, as well as the technical difficulties of the rosc which is found only in the LU text of this episode of TBC. The summaries in the volumes by Hull and Gregory also follow the less problematic text in LL and in addition, under the guise of condensation, they omit or obscure the humorous and gory elements of the passage. Thus, Faraday, Hutton, O’Rahilly (1976), and Kinsella are the only translators who attempt

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the challenges of the LU passage, and of the four only Kinsella translates the entire rosc. Moreover, it is characteristic of the history of translating TBC that none of the four who translate the LU material shows Cú Chulainn being run over. Faraday, Hutton, and O’Rahilly say that Fergus goes past Cú Chulainn. Even though Kinsella represents the “objectionable” content of the text, including the sexual material, here he translates, “And he stooped humbly while Fergus’s chariot circled him three times” (1969:120). The thematic and social implications of a hero who prostrates himself to another and who is run over by a chariot apparently continued to be sufficiently troubling that even late twentiethcentury translators preferred to choose an extended meaning for the preposition tar, ‘across, over’, rather than the most natural Old Irish sense of the word. Although it would be possible to continue in detail to specify the ways in which each translation has approached this passage and to illustrate the ways in which they have handled the ideological and poetic problems posed by TBC in its entirely, the brief analysis here indicates the main outlines of the particulars, and it is more useful to turn to larger patterns that emerge from looking at the English translations of TBC as a group. Clearly the first striking characteristic of this history of the translation of TBC into English is the suppression of the tale throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.26 Despite the importance of the tale, signalled as early as 1861 by O’Curry, in its fullness TBC could not seize the imagination of the English-speaking world, nor could it be used for the political project of establishing the greatness of Ireland’s cultural heritage: the representations of the Irish following from any close and complete translation of TBC into English produced intolerable cultural interference with colonial cultural standards and nationalist aims as well. The result is a pattern of partial suppression of the tale and a pattern of obfuscation of the problematic elements in TBC throughout the period. For fifty years after O’Curry announced the importance of Táin Bó Cúailnge, there was no translation of the entire story that could be used by English-speaking audiences, scholarly or popular, nationalist or otherwise. Moreover, even when Joseph Dunn published a lengthy translation in 1914 in America, his genteel, archaizing language and his judicious movement between versions of the story did much to dampen the effect of the less dignified elements of TBC, thus reflecting the dual cultural constraints of colonialism and Irish nationalism that impinged on Irish interests even in America.27 Compare, for example, Medb’s offers of “my own close friendship” (Gregory [1902] 1973:143; Dunn 1914:6) or “mine own close friendliness” (Hull 1898:115), with Kinsella’s (1969:55) “my own friendly thighs”.28

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For more than a century translators strove to find formulas through which the concept of Irish heroism could be handed over and made intelligible in English. The medieval Irish tales were translated in the etymological sense of “carried across” from one culture to another, but the elements salvaged in this process were primarily those aspects of the tale that were consistent with the Irish nationalistic programme, given the constraints of English colonialism. Even after 1922, TBC continued to be sufficiently problematic that there is a translation silence about the tale for almost 50 years after the foundation of the Irish state, despite the cultural centrality of the tale.29 An important adaptation of the material in English translation was its assimilation to a biographical framework. The Ulster Cycle stories were presented in such a way as to focus on the life of the hero Cú Chulainn; stories that omitted Cú Chulainn were often marginalized or omitted altogether in collections, particularly in publications aimed at a general readership.30 The biographical structuring was a tool permitting the integration of the various and diverse stories of the cycle into a coherent pattern, and it also gave a means of sidestepping some of the rather bizarre motifs of the stories which were, thus, defined as of subordinate importance.31 In part this focus on biography worked to counter the depersonalization that colonized peoples suffer under colonialism. Postcolonial theorists have argued that colonization reduces the colonized to objects of knowledge, denying the colonized individual the status that is claimed for individuals representative of the colonizing power.32 The biographical orientation of translations of Irish heroic literature and the biographical structuring of patriotic history served to combat such depersonalization by stressing the individualism of Irish mythic characters, legendary heroes, and historical figures alike, who came thus to represent the individualism claimed for Irish citizens in general. The biographical presentation was most significant, however, for its ideological and political force: Cú Chulainn came to epitomize the ideal of militant Irish heroism, which was thus personalized as well. Cú Chulainn’s extravagant and heroic boyhood deeds, his welcome of a short life with fame, his role as guardian of his tribe, his victories in single combat, his refusal to shirk challenge, and his early tragic death beset by overwhelming odds were all highlighted in the history of translation of the early Irish material into English. The paradigm permitted nationalist identification with a hero of the most militant and uncompromising sort, and it glorified both individualism and action on behalf of the tribe. This refraction of early Irish literature, thus, sets a trajectory that leads directly to the 1916 Easter Rising.33 This is so in a literal way, not merely a figurative one. It is well known that

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Patrick Henry Pearse − one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising − had a mural depicting Cú Chulainn’s taking of arms in the entrance hall of St. Enda’s, the boys’ school which he directed for some years. The panel was framed with Cú Chulainn’s words, “I care not though I were to live but one day and one night provided my fame and my deeds live after me”. Pearse had as a stated goal the desire to have the boys model themselves on Cú Chulainn (Edwards 1977:11735). Pearse came to conceptualize Cú Chulainn as an exemplar of struggle, self-sacrifice, and self-discipline, transforming the hero still later into a messianic figure who offered himself in a blood sacrifice for his people (O’Leary 1994:263), fusing secular and Christian imagery. Eventually Pearse modelled his own political actions on his image of Cú Chulainn. When Pearse himself and the other leaders of the Rising were executed by the British, their martyrdom in turn was perceived by Irish nationalists as echoing the downfall of Cú Chulainn, and Yeats could later write in his Death of Cuchulain: What stood in the Post Office With Pearse and Connolly? What comes out of the mountain Where men first shed their blood? Who thought Cuchulain till it seemed He stood where they had stood?

It is no accident that the 1916 Rising is memorialized in Dublin’s General Post Office by Oliver Sheppard’s statue depicting the death of Cú Chulainn, images of which are found on the cover of this book.34 In order for Cú Chulainn to serve as a symbol of this sort, his story − or, more properly, stories − had to be rewritten and retold in ways that were different from those found the early Irish texts. The results of these conceptions of Irish literature and history shaped the translations of medieval Irish heroic literature in the most graphic of ways, as we have seen. The importance of Cú Chulainn’s biography notwithstanding, the most significant formula to emerge in English translations of Táin Bó Cúailnge was the celebration of the fight between Cú Chulainn and his foster brother Fer Diad, an episode which was highlighted in the very first partial translation of TBC, Sullivan’s 1873 excerpt. Paradoxically, textual tradition suggests that this section of TBC − which became emblematic and metonymic in English translations of TBC as a whole − was not even originally part of the tale. Apparently once an independent tale, it was composed in the eleventh century, some 300 years after most of the earliest version of TBC had already been written down. Soon thereafter the Fer Diad episode was interpolated by a scribe into the older

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narrative; though it became de rigueur in the story later, the Fer Diad episode is poorly integrated into the earliest version of TBC, the text in LU. It is precisely the differences between this section and the rest of the material that made it acceptable and attractive to patriots: its fullness, its more literary language (including a greater percentage of poetry in the narrative), its greater unity (with fewer redundancies and inconsistencies), its focus on noble and heroic deeds, and its pathetic, tragic tone.35 In addition, the section has relatively few unusual social customs, and it has somewhat less objectionable sexual and scatological material than other sections of TBC. Accordingly the episode was not only more palatable to Victorian readers, it could also be compared favourably with other national epics. Eleanor Hull (1898:xliii) could write in the introduction to her volume of translations, “Classical literature contains nothing more pathetic and more full of the true spirit of chivalry than the combat between Cuchullin and Ferdia ... ”, and could claim in her introduction to the episode itself, “Its tenderness, pathos, and high ideal of chivalrous honour exceed anything that the Arthurian saga can show, and perhaps cannot be surpassed in any literature” (1898:186). This is clearly a construction or representation of the text and of Irish literature which has an ideological motivation, rather than being a simple description. It is ironic that the characteristics that make the Fer Diad section stand out textually came to be projected as representative of TBC as a whole. In addition to the formal and tonal attractions of the episode, moreover, there were essential ideological attractions of the Fer Diad section. What political message about heroism is singled out by stressing the fight between Cú Chulainn and Fer Diad? One might say that the moral of the episode is that violence toward one’s friend and brother is sad but necessary if one is to fulfill one’s group loyalties (and patriotic duties). This is, of course, a representation that promotes civil strife and civil war − the very means by which the Irish nationalist movement achieved independence from Britain, the means resorted to in the Irish Civil War, and the means which were taken up again in Northern Ireland after 1968. Thus the emphasis on the Fer Diad episode in the translation history of Táin Bó Cúailnge has been one element in a discourse of violence in Ireland from the nineteenth century to the present.36 Though O’Curry in 1861 had passed over the Fer Diad episode with a scant paragraph, not singling it out for special notice, this patriotic formula for heroism emerged clearly by the turn of the century. Sullivan and Leahy restricted their translations to the Fer Diad fight entirely, and almost one-fourth of Gregory’s version of TBC is given to the episode. Moreover, a choice of LL as the base manuscript (adopted by most of the translators, including Dunn) is also a

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choice to highlight the Fer Diad section, because in the LL version the episode is more integrated with the rest of TBC and more focal.37 Even when the Fer Diad section did not dominate in bulk, it was generally narrated with fullness and attention or highlighted in some way (Hull, Hutton).38 In English translations to a significant degree the rest of the TBC became ancillary to Cú Chulainn’s fight with his foster brother; in English translation the Fer Diad episode became the epitome of TBC, the tail that wagged the dog. In part because literary works have the power to seize the imagination, to fire whole populations, translations have a political dimension. Translation was necessary in Ireland if the bulk of the population was to get in touch with the native heritage of Ireland, both medieval and contemporary: a tradition distinct from that of the colonial government and the ruling class, but a tradition from which much of the population had been severed by time, by political oppression and cultural estrangement, and by their own adoption of the language of the conquerors. The Irish people themselves were cut off from apprehending their own culture in its original linguistic form, and translation was one means by which they came to understand and construct themselves, their identity, their culture, their literary forms − in short their place in the world. In many of these respects the role of translation in Ireland is similar to and even paradigmatic of the role of translation in other countries with a history of colonial and cultural oppression. Not only do oppressed peoples have programmatic political purposes for translating traditional cultural materials, but aside from its specific political agendas, translation is important because it defines national culture to natives and the world alike. As in Ireland, the question of how to represent national culture to the nation itself is particularly consequential when the emerging nation is multilingual and multicultural. Such awareness of cultural identity − indeed the crafting of a cultural identity and the representation of a people through translation − inevitably has ideological and political implications. It is apparent that the translation history of Táin Bó Cúailnge in English − the way it was suppressed and the elements singled out for salvage when it was not suppressed − has been very much a political question. In terms of the specific political objectives of Irish nationalists, the treatment of TBC in translation and particularly the emphasis on the Fer Diad section were successful. Ironically, the kind of imaginative construction needed to achieve the nationalistic objectives − namely independence from England − could not accommodate TBC in its stark entirety. In 1899 Standish O’Grady prophesied, We have now a literary movement, it is not very important; it will be followed by a political movement, that will not be very important; then

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must come a military movement, that will be important indeed. (Quoted in Yeats 1953:257)

His prophecy came true. The literary movement did lead to the 1916 Easter Rising. The history of the translation of Táin Bó Cúailnge into English − or rather its non-translation and its partial translation − is part of the success of Irish nationalist politics.

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Notes to Chapter 2 1. See Cheyfitz ([1991] 1997) for an extended discussion of this and related discourses that construct the foundation of colonialism. 2. The nineteenth-century discourse of Anglo-Saxonism also contributed to the view of the Irish as wild and uncivilized; see L. Curtis 1968, esp. chs. 3 and 4, as well as the discussion below. Cheng (1995:ch. 2) also discusses the “wildness” of the Irish. 3. Homi Bhabha (1994:82) reads such stereotypes as “curiously mixed and split, polymorphous and perverse, an articulation of multiple belief”, aimed at effecting a separation between races, cultures, and histories, a disjunction. 4. On this point see Thompson [1967] 1972:33; L. Curtis 1968:62-65 and passim. L. Curtis (1971:chs. 1, 2; 1968:ch. 5) discusses the racial and scientific discourses behind these perceptions; as he indicates, the Irish were frequently viewed as “white Negroes”. On the stereotyping associated with the figure of the stage Irishman, see below ch. 7. 5. Already in her publication, Brooke ([1789] 1970:vii) announces to her readers, “The British muse is not yet informed that she has an elder sister in this isle ... ”. The claim to greater antiquity is frequently asserted by nativist cultural movements (Budick and Iser 1996:35). 6. This view of the period, which follows that of Yeats, must not be allowed to obscure the important political developments of the period. See, for example, Foster ([1988] 1989:ch. 18) for a corrective. 7. The population of Ireland had dropped from 8,200,000 in the 1840s to 4,400,000 in the first decade of the twentieth century, with the depopulation caused by deaths during the Great Famine and the pattern of emigration that developed during the famines and thereafter. Both factors had affected Irish speakers disproportionately and, in part as a consequence, many Irish-speaking families in Ireland had turned to speaking English in the aftermath of the Famine so as to give their children better economic prospects. By 1911, thus, only 12% of the population were designated as Irish-speaking. (See Foster [1988] 1989:12122, 323-24; E. Curtis [1936] 1950:371; and Edwards 1973:229-31.) 8. Because of the inaccessibility of early Irish to Modern Irish speakers, the Irish language movement also promoted the translation of early Irish literature into Modern Irish; ironically translation into Modern Irish often used English editions with facing English translations as their “source texts”. O’Leary (1994:ch. 4) offers an analysis of these translations into Modern Irish. 9. Cf. Kiberd 1995. On the role of translation in the development of national literatures see Delisle and Woodsworth, 1995:ch. 3. 10. In Táin Bó Cúailnge, while Ulster’s heroes are incapacitated with “labour pains” (as a result of a supernatural curse), the leaders of Connacht, Ailill and Medb, muster a host from the other provinces of Ireland and undertake a cattle raid upon Ulster. A main goal is to capture a great bull, the Donn (‘The Dark One’) of Cúailnge. Expecting no opposition, the host is surprised to discover the border guarded and their army obstructed by the young hero Cú Chulainn who is exempt from the pains. Cú Chulainn harries the troops as they enter Ulster

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11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

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and progress toward the bull. Each of his successes is celebrated in the naming of a ford or other element of the landscape. Eventually, Ailill and Medb arrive at an agreement with Cú Chulainn to have a series of single combats between their men and the young hero. Cú Chulainn is victorious against all the men sent against him, including at the last his foster brother Fer Diad, whom he kills. In the course of the protracted contest with Cú Chulainn, the Connacht host secures the bull and turns for home. After Fer Diad’s death, Cú Chulainn is incapacitated by wounds, but the Ulster heroes begin to recover and come to oppose the Connacht host. A full complement of the Ulstermen arrives at last, fights with the Connacht army, and is victorious when Cú Chulainn joins the fray. Connacht retreats in defeat but retains possession of the bull. During the retreat Medb is overcome by the need to urinate, is caught by Cú Chulainn, and spared. The story ends with a fight between the captured black bull, the Donn of Cúailnge, and a great bull from Connacht, the Finnbennach (‘The White Horned One’). Such episodes may not seem very shocking to our contemporary sensibilities. Nonetheless, publicly acknowledged adultery, for example, was no light matter in Ireland in the nineteenth century: witness Parnell’s fall when his liaison with Kitty O’Shea was made known. Moreover, the mention of a woman’s shift was claimed as a justification for the nationalist riots against J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World in 1907. C. O’Brien ([1994] 1995:33) discusses the centrality of the value of chastity for Irish nationalists. Many of the barriers to the reception of early Irish literature at the time can be characterized as having to do with the universe of discourse: Irish literature included activities, customs, objects, beliefs, attitudes, and words which were not part of the universe of discourse of high literature in the English-language reception system during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (cf. Lefevere 1992b:ch. 7). The metrical principles of the passages of rosc were only defined in the second half of the twentieth century (see Carney 1971, Watkins 1963); throughout the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, most scholars took these passages to be highly ornamented and obscure prose passages. See the more extensive discussion of the roscada in ch. 3 below. The three recensions are as follows: (1) an Old Irish version, principally derived from an eighth-century version of the tale with later heterogeneous elements integrated into the text, in Lebor na hUidre (the Book of the Dun Cow, early twelfth century, hereafter LU) and the Yellow Book of Lecan (fourteenth century, hereafter YBL); (2) a twelfth-century version, which represents a literary reworking of the early recension, found in the Book of Leinster (mid twelfth century, hereafter LL); and (3) fragments of an early modern version (thirteenth or fourteenth century), found in Trinity College H.2.17 (fifteenth century) and British Library Egerton 93 (fifteenth or sixteenth century). For detailed discussion of the characteristics of these three recensions, see O’Rahilly 1967:vii-lv, 1976:vii-xxiii; Williams and Ford 1992:97ff.; and references cited. The accretions are too extensive to be simply culled out and, moreover, some of the best episodes in the earliest recension of TBC (including the Fer Diad

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story discussed below) are later additions to the tale, as linguistic analysis indicates. 16. The text is adapted from O’Rahilly 1976, ll. 1361-84, but the translation is my own. The stepped line of the poem follows the form of Kinsella’s (1969) translation of the roscada. See Appendix D for textual notes. 17. There were also several unpublished English translations of TBC available in the nineteenth century, in addition to the published translations considered below. In the Royal Irish Academy there are currently nineteenth-century manuscript translations into English of the LL version of TBC by John O’Daly (RIA manuscript 24 M 39, based on the work of D. H. Kelly; hence the manuscript is referred to by the names of both O’Daly and Kelly) and Brian O’Looney (RIA manuscript 3 A 14). In addition there was an unpublished translation of Eugene O’Curry in the possession of the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society (M. Ferguson [1867] 1903:332; cf. also O’Curry 1873:3.413), and a manuscript translation of the LU version of TBC by Brian O’Looney (De Vere 1882:vi). I have been unable to locate the O’Curry translation or the O’Looney translation of LU and cannot therefore analyze their translation strategies. In addition to the translations of TBC analyzed below, there are also various other rewritings of the story, including versions in Standish O’Grady’s History of Ireland (1878-80) and Aubrey De Vere’s Foray of Queen Maeve (1882), which both have a rather free relationship to the source texts, considerably more so than do the translations discussed here. I have also omitted from consideration Denis Florence MacCarthy’s “Ferdiah” (1882), a versification of W. K. Sullivan’s translation of the Fer Diad segment of TBC, as well as William C. Upton’s dramatic poem entitled Cuchulain: The Story of his Combats at the Ford (1887), based on O’Grady. It is interesting that Samuel Ferguson did versions of a number of Ulster Cycle tales but none of TBC, although he had access to unpublished translations of the story. Following Macpherson, Ferguson believed that the extant prose versions of TBC in Irish were a “debased remnant” of a lost poetic epic. Hence his own rendition of elements of the “Conorian” cycle “allows a place for the Táin, which remains as an absence in the reconstruction of an Irish heroic literature” (Denman 1990:147, cf. 82). Ferguson in a sense gives a zero translation of the tale. His wife, Mary Ferguson, however, included a retelling of TBC in her volume The Story of the Irish before the Conquest (1867), a version which acknowledges its debt to unpublished translations by Eugene O’Curry and D. H. Kelly (see Preface to the Second Edition and Notes on the Sources). Mary Ferguson’s summary account of TBC ([1867] 1903:45-73) touches on the opening “Pillow-talk” section, Cú Chulainn’s “Boyhood Deeds”, the conflict between Cú Chulainn and Fer Diad, and various elements from the final battle; in all these episodes she quotes short sections from the manuscript translations (which are based upon the LL version of TBC). Though some of the following publications are not translations in the most narrow sense of the word, they functioned as such during the period (for example, they were included in collections of translations and purport to represent the source texts). Thus, they are included in the following list.

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18. 19. 20.

21. 22. 23.

24. 25.

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In the material below I have also omitted Jeffrey Gantz’s modern rendering of the section of TBC known as “Cú Chulainn’s Boyhood Deeds” (1981:13446), because it does not purport to represent TBC as such, but treats that section of TBC as an independent tale, which textual analysis indicates was, in fact, the case. Cronin (1996:133) identifies W. K. Sullivan as a chemistry professor and describes his strategy of translation as “forbidding literalism”, but, as can be seen, there is more that can be said about Sullivan’s methods. Cronin (1996:134) notes that S. H. O’Grady differentiates his translation goals from those of the scholars, indicating that he wished to make the material more readable than scholars had done. As her sources Gregory lists manuscript translations in the Royal Irish Academy by John O’Daly and Brian O’Looney, Eugene O’Curry, and synopses by Standish Hayes O’Grady (in Hull) and Zimmer (1887). It is unclear whether Gregory used O’Curry’s unpublished translation of TBC (see above n. 17) or whether she relied simply on his published materials. Leahy maintained the importance of translating the roscada, for example, in his introduction, 1905-06:1.x-xiii. O’Leary (1994:228 n.15) indicates that Hutton was involved in teaching Old and Middle Irish classes offered in Belfast under the auspices of the Belfast Gaelic League. In this regard Dunn’s translation suffers from the same limitations that many current editions of Shakespeare’s texts do. See, for example, the discussion in Urkowitz 1980. Dunn broke the text up into many short chapters; by using this format he was able to include a number of episodes from LU as self-standing chapters without distinguishing them from the material in the primary manuscript by any typological or printing device, merely labelling material in the margin by manuscript, but effacing the significant and incompatible differences in the versions. Thus it is very hard to get a sense of the contributions and distinct characteristics of the various versions of TBC. By contrast Windisch’s edition sticks to LL, distinguishing variants from the other manuscripts and the other versions of TBC by labelling them clearly, by presenting them in a different (usually smaller) typeface, or by relegating them to footnotes, in the cases that he actually publishes the variants rather than merely noting the existence of a major textual difference. Thus, Windisch’s edition, much more so than Dunn’s translation, accords with modern scholarly standards and indicates clearly the nature of each version of TBC. In Nida’s terms, there is less dynamic equivalence. The existence of several unpublished English translations of TBC available since the nineteenth century (see above n.17) also indicates that the barriers to publishing English translations of TBC were not primarily a question of linguistic difficulty. The Kelly/O’Daly and O’Looney manuscript translations of LL are rather complete, coping with the problems of decorum sometimes by bowdlerizing, sometimes by simply leaving actual blank spaces of the appropriate size in the handwritten text of the translation in lieu of writing offensive

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English words or translating passages that might be considered obscene. 26. As noted above (n.17), Samuel Ferguson justified this policy of zero translation by blatantly denying that there was a text to be translated, maintaining pace Macpherson that the actual primary text of TBC (a poetic epic in his view) was lost. 27. Even so it might be hypothesized that Dunn’s American cultural context facilitated his ability to translate the text into English more fully than his predecessors had done and to represent the content of various “problematic” episodes of TBC. 28. All are translating the LL phrase cardes mo líasta-sa fessin, literally ‘the friendship of my own thighs’, O’Rahilly 1967:l. 87. Cf. O’Rahilly 1976:l. 2600, where the phrase commaid dom líasaid-sea, literally ‘the companionship of my own thigh’, is translated by Faraday (1904:101) as “my love”; DIL (C col. 392) renders the phrase “to share my couch”, and O’Rahilly (1976:196) translates it as “my own intimate friendship”. 29. Questions related to the translation of early Irish literature after Irish independence and the decolonizing impetus reflected in Kinsella’s version will be pursued at greater length in later chapters. 30. For example, Scéla Mucce Meic Datho, ‘The Story of Mac Datho’s Pig’, in which the chief hero is Conall, was to a large extent treated as peripheral, despite its cultural, historical, and literary interest. See also the discussion below, ch. 7. Samuel Ferguson is one of the few adaptors and translators who did not conceptualize the Ulster Cycle with Cú Chulainn at its centre; instead he thought of the cycle as the “Conorian” cycle, with the king Conchobor as its centre, thus parallel to the Arthurian material or the French epic cycle with Charlemagne at the centre. Significantly, Ferguson was a Unionist, with strong loyalties to the English monarch. 31. O’Leary discerns a “biographical fixation” and hero worship permeating all nationalist history writing: “history was conceived of as a straightforward series of heroic biographies” and “the protagonist was the point” (1994:206-10). Because legend was incorporated into history writing and study, O’Leary observes that the door was opened “for the admission of strictly literary characters to the Irish pantheon” (1994:209). 32. The tendency is seen in discussions of colonized peoples which use the third person singular to denote a universal, a single “specimen” so to speak, e.g. “the Irishman”, which separates the object of discussion from the realms of humanity. See the discussion of these issues in Mills 1997:113ff. 33. Only Kinsella’s translation, a half century after Irish independence, breaks the biographical framework that the tale was set in by the early translators. 34. It is well known that Yeats himself also used Cú Chulainn as a personal emblem, with his Cú Chulainn cycle of plays reflecting the stages of Yeats’s own life. Yeats finished his Death of Cuchulain in the last weeks of his own life. 35. There are in fact humorous, grotesque, and hyperbolic elements in the Fer Diad narrative, but they are subsumed within a larger tragic tonality. 36. The continued usefulness of Cú Chulainn for political paradigms in the second

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half of the twentieth century is indicated by the existence of wall art depicting Cú Chulainn in areas of Northern Ireland during the Troubles after 1968, an intersemiotic translation of the Cú Chulainn story into visual images by both Protestant and Catholic partisans (see, for example, Rolston 1995:17, 21, 28). The focus on internecine elements of the early literature is a cornerstone of the translation tradition, found as early as Charlotte Brooke’s 1789 seminal publication, which opens with the story of how Cú Chulainn kills his son through a mishap that arises from his loyalty to the Ulstermen. Like TBC, this tale also became a favourite with cultural nationalists, and it is included in most compendia of translations, forming as well the basis of Yeats’s play On Baile’s Strand, written for the Irish dramatic movement during Yeats’s populist phase. Brooke explictly stressed the military and heroic qualities in Irish literature, selecting genres and texts for translation that emphasize war and military action and observing that Irish heroic poetry “was designed for the noblest purposes; ... it was sublime love of country that those compositions inspired” ([1789] 1970:236). 37. As a reason for preferring LL as the base manuscript, Sullivan (1873:3.413) explicitly cites the preferable state of the Fer Diad episode in that text. 38. Faraday’s translation is the one exception to this trend. In her introduction (1904:xvii-xviii), she discussed features of the Fer Diad episode that suggest it is a late additon to TBC, and in her translation she abbreviated and downplayed the Fer Diad combat.

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3. Formal Strategies for Integrating Irish Hero Tales into Canons of European Literature

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Our national epic has yet to be written, Dr Sigerson says. James Joyce, Ulysses Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land − masculine stories of violence and bloodshed. Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell, and which she no doubt still told to her younger children. ... That was the kind of story that Nwoye loved. But he now knew that they were for foolish women and children, and he knew that his father wanted him to be a man. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

By the eighteenth century no Celtic stories had entered international canons of European literature the way French, English, Italian, and Spanish material had already done. A variety of factors contributed to the restriction of Celtic literature to its own culture area. To begin with, each Celtic linguistic group had a relatively small population and each Celtic population covered a relatively small geographical area. The Celts were also under the political and military domination of the English and the French, dominance that brought with it cultural hegemony tending to devalue or suppress the cultures of the conquered Celts. Equally important, perhaps, oral tradition persisted as the living literary praxis in Celtic cultures, and written literature was less central; in part this was a result of cultural colonization, including policies aimed at the eradication of Celtic cultures, such as the Penal Laws in Ireland. As a consequence, rather than participating in the contemporary international literary movements, Celtic written literature, such as was produced, also conformed largely to indigenous traditional configurations; Celtic cultures have been described as “backward looking”, but it is perhaps more accurate to say that the cultural pressures to which they were subjected impeded full participation in the international movements of European letters from the Renaissance onward.1 As a result, in Celtic lands there were few written literary texts produced after the Middle Ages that were candidates for integration into international culture.2 The fact that no Celtic language had become dominant in a New World nation contributed to the isolation of Celtic literature from the literary mainstream of Europe. In addition, already by the eighteenth century and increasingly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Celtic languages were receding even in

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their native lands; Celts were adopting the languages of their political masters. Factors such as these meant that it was not feasible to expect European readers to learn Breton, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, or Manx, much less their medieval antecedents in which the greatest written literary texts of the Celts had been preserved. Only through translation could Celtic literature enter the European literary canon. Celtic literature began to attract European attention in the eighteenth century, and Romanticism turned this interest to a passion. The lure of the exotic and of ancient relics both made the Celts naturally fascinating to the Romantics. Celtic culture antedated that of Rome, and it preserved into the modern period traces of ancient paganism. Moreover, because the Celts maintained their noble heritage in oral tradition, the keepers of Celtic stories were often the folk, another source of fascination to the Romantics. Conveniently, the Celts were also a good deal more accessible to the Romantics than most other such exotic civilizations in the world − they offered the advantages of what Alain van Crugten has called “next-door exoticism” (Homel and Simon 1988:64). For reasons such as these, the nineteenth century saw a steady stream of translations of Celtic literature − including both medieval written texts and oral folk literature − into the major European languages. In Ireland and elsewhere the romantic impetus to translate Celtic stories was reinforced by political imperatives, as has been seen already. Celtic literature presents a variety of problems for translators, some of which, particularly those associated with the content, were explored in the last chapter. Not the least of the difficulties, however, is the poetics, in particular the distinctive narrative form. Even very early narratives, including the earliest medieval heroic tales, are primarily in prose, and there is no native Celtic tradition of narrative poetry. Instead, poetry is used for mnemonic purposes (to preserve various types of lore including law, genealogy, king lists, and placelore) or poems are formal arrangements of specialized speech acts (including lament, praise, satire, and greeting), either existing as independent verses or as speeches with the same purposes in narratives.3 In the early narratives, speech acts in poetic form do not narrate the content or the action to which the poetry refers; typically the audience is presumed to know the traditional narrative background to the poems and to be able to supply the narrative context to which the speeches refer.4 Moreover, Celtic metres are extremely elaborate, and the emphasis in Celtic poetry is on the sound rather than the sense, further obscuring the “story” associated with a poem.5 Because poetry was a craft which required long and formal training in Celtic lands, much of a poet’s skill and learning was displayed

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in his mastery of intricate metres rather than in the communicative aspects of poetic content. In addition, to a very late date Celtic poets maintained the tradition of the poet as seer; there is a mantic cast to many poems which makes them elusive and obscure rather than discursive.6 In translation, therefore, the presentation and adaptation of the form of Celtic literature for a wider European audience was clearly no mean task. This is graphically demonstrated by literary history. Two of the most heated European controversies about the authenticity of purported translations concern Celtic literature: the cases of James Macpherson and Théodore Claude Henri Hersart de la Villemarqué. Although a comprehensive assessment of James Macpherson’s work is beyond the scope of this work, Macpherson’s writings must be understood partly as an attempt to translate the formal peculiarities of the Scottish Fenian ballads, lays, and tales into a formal code which would be acceptable to English audiences schooled in classical epic. The episodic tales, which MacCulloch (1911:155) called “floating incidents”, and non-narrative heroic poems assumed familiarity with oral prose narration and larger traditional contexts for their narrative setting. Macpherson attempted to transform these materials into continuous epic narrative, believing that the extant texts which he was translating were the fragmentary remains of a lost verse epic, some of which survived in verse, but most of which had been preserved in prose. By calling his works “poems”, though his books were in prose, Macpherson suggested to his readers that the lost originals were narative epic poetry.7 Macpherson’s work was a resounding success and it took European letters by storm.8 In the process of interpreting the content and form of his sources in terms which would be acceptable and comprehensible to his English-speaking audience, however, Macpherson so completely diverged from and obscured the Scottish Gaelic material of his sources that his writings were inevitably taken as forgery and fraud. The controversy over Macpherson’s writings raged the better part of two centuries,9 and it led ultimately to the exact recording of genuine Scottish and Irish material. The controversy was probably also instrumental in creating a more open climate of reception for Celtic literary forms by European readers. In the mid nineteenth century the Breton poetry of Hersart de la Villemarqué sparked a similar controversy in France, which must also be seen in the context of the difficulty of translating Celtic forms. La Villemarqué’s poetry relates to some of the most famous Breton tales, including the tale of the submerged city of Ys. Perhaps having learned a lesson from the Macpherson controversy, La Villemarqué was careful from the first to give Breton texts as well as his French translations. But La Villemarqué’s Breton texts, while not so radically

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assimilated to European forms as Macpherson’s English publications, show signs of not being completely Celtic either. Though the Breton poems are relatively short and though they contain a good deal of direct speech, they also have a narrative component explaining the background action. The narrative elements seem natural to French readers, but they are suspect in a Celtic context, and for this and other reasons the authenticity of La Villemarqué’s Breton poetry was challenged early on. The controversy over La Villemarqué’s “translations” and “originals” began in 1867 and is not yet dead.10 Nonetheless, La Villemarqué’s success in introducing Breton material to a wider European audience is indisputable. His work went through several editions and reprintings, and his French texts were translated into other European languages as well. Like Macpherson’s publications earlier, La Villemarqué’s work was immensely popular, and it is responsible for integrating neglected Celtic material into European literature. Part of La Villemarqué’s success derives from his successful adaptation of Celtic forms to more general European patterns. Táin Bó Cúailnge − the most important narrative of early Irish tradition, indeed the claimant to the title of Irish national epic, as was shown in detail in the last chapter − also had to be translated into the major European languages in order to claim its rightful place among other national epics. For nationalist purposes it was particularly important to translate the story into English, because English was the language of the majority of the Irish population and the colonizers as well. But translating TBC, like translating Scottish and Breton material earlier, was easier said than done: hence, although the first complete translation of TBC appeared as early as 1905 in German, a comparable English translation did not appear until 1976. It has already been established that the content of TBC has elements making its reception outside a Celtic context difficult. As important in this difficulty are the problems posed by the form of TBC, shared with much of Celtic literature, namely the pervasive standard of prose narratives with inset non-narrative poems, as well as other formal challenges, including extreme tonal variation, sexual and scatological episodes, rampant exaggeration, and macabre or grotesque humour, that provide radical variation in register within a heroic framework. Even the plot of TBC offers formal problems in itself, because it is structured by onomastics and placelore, with the action following itineraries and centring on the naming or creation of the landscape (Haley 1973; cf. Kinsella 1969:xiii-xxiii). Formal challenges also include features associated with oral texts, such as lexical repetition, inconsistency, redundancy, internal variants, and acephaly, as well as the existence of three irreconcilable early versions of the tale. 11 Some of these elements were inconsistent with the Irish nationalist programme and others

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violated the dominant norms of English culture and poetics, as has been discussed; hence, it is no surprise to find that some of the formal aspects of TBC were systematically suppressed in English down to the second half of the twentieth century. Here, I would like to take the opposite tack from the discussion in the last chapter of the difficulties in translating TBC − less to document the suppression of the problematic features of TBC than to chronicle how the story was made palatable at all in translation, concentrating on the formal aspects of the translations in particular to illustrate theoretical principles about the metonymics of translation and the reception of translations. The task of the translators transposing TBC into English was, as much as possible, to make the work acceptable (in fact, comparable) within the established framework of Western poetics and literature, specifically within the framework of English poetics and literature. TBC had to be presented or interpreted, translated in the etymological sense of “carried across”, so that it was intelligible within the conceptual framework of audiences accustomed to literature in English, who held literary standards different from or even inimical to those of early Irish literature. In the history of the translation of TBC into English it is apparent that translators were searching for representations − codes, as it were − intended on the one hand to link the story to the accepted literary canons of the day and on the other hand to convey the uniqueness of TBC. Such codes exist on all levels of a translation: plot, characterization, themes, form, cultural background, and so forth. Here the discussion focuses on the codes used to represent formal aspects of Irish narration in terms of preexisting literary types which were already part of dominant European canons. The translators’ strategies for representing the formal patterning of Irish heroic narrative − namely prose in alternation with decorative elements including verse insets − are particularly instructive. The English-language translations of TBC to be considered here are those introduced and described in some detail in the last chapter: W. K. Sullivan’s translation of the Fer Diad episode entitled “The Fight of Ferdiad and Cuchulaind” (1873); the summary of TBC included in Eleanor Hull’s compendium The Cuchullin Saga (1898) under the title “The Cattle-spoil of Cooley”; the work of Augusta Gregory, Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1902), which includes a version of TBC in three chapters entitled “The War for the Bull of Cuailgne”, “The Awakening of Ulster”, and “The Two Bulls”; the translation of the LU version of TBC by Winifred Faraday, The Cattle-Raid of Cualnge (1904); a version of the Fer Diad episode translated by A. H. Leahy in Heroic Romances of Ireland (1905-06); the rendition of Mary A. Hutton, The Táin (1907); the English translation by Joseph Dunn, The Ancient Irish Epic Tale Táin Bó

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Cúalnge (1914), based on Ernst Windisch’s 1905 German edition and translation; the translation by Cecile O’Rahilly, Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster (1967), which follows her edition of the twelfth-century version of TBC; the translation of Thomas Kinsella, The Táin (1969); and the translation included in Cecile O’Rahilly, Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension I (1976), which accompanies an edition of the earliest version of TBC. The translators were called upon to represent five contrasting formal elements in TBC, which can be characterized as follows. (I) The prose of the general narrative and dialogue. This prose style, particularly in the earliest version of TBC, is usually straightforward, spare, and pithy. The language is restricted in the lexis, with a good deal of lexical repetition, and it is prostactic, with relatively few subordinate clauses.12 This narrative type is apparent in the following passage, an episode in the final battle of the earliest version of TBC. Gaibid Fergus a suidiu a gaisced  imasaí isin chath  glanais berna cét isin chath cona chlaideb ina díb lámuib. Gabais Medb íarom a gaisced  forfóbair isin chath  maidter rempi fo thrí conad ed rosoí in cúal gaí fora cúlu. “Ní fetar”, ol Conchobar fria muintir bátar imme, “cia resa maid in cath frind atúaid. Geibid-si sunn in cath didiu co ndechar-sa fora chind.” “Gébma-ne íarom i mbale i tám”, ar na hóca, “acht mani maidi in talam found nó an nem anúas foraind, nícon memsam-ne de sund.” After that Fergus took his weapons and he turned to the battle and with his sword in his two hands he cleared a gap big enough for a hundred through the battalion. Then Medb took her weapons and rushed into the battle and they broke before her three times, until a bunch of spears turned her back. “I do not know”, said Conchobor to his warband who were with him, “who has broken our lines on the left flank. You hold the battle line here and I will go against him.” “We will hold the place where we stand”, said the young men, “and, unless the earth break beneath us or the heavens upon us, we will not move from here.” 13

(II) An alliterative prose style, characterized by rapid pace, nominal structure, parallel syntax, and strings of compound adjectives. This style is relatively late in date; it became increasingly popular after the eleventh century. In the earliest version of TBC it is found primarily in an eleventh-century passage entitled Seisrech Breislige, ‘The Six-fold Slaughter’, or In Carpat Serda, ‘The

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Sickled Chariot’, which is found interpolated into the early version of TBC. The following example is from an arming sequence. ... is and sin doreblaing ind err gascid ina chathcharpat serda cona erraib iarnaidib, cona Ãáebraib tanaidib, cona baccánaib  cona birchrúadib, cona thairbirib níath, cona nglés aursolcdi, cona thairngib gaíthe bítís ar fertsib  íallaib  fithisib  folomnaib don charpat sin. Is amlaid boí in carpat sin cona chreit chróestana chróestirim chlesaird colgdírig caurata ara taillfitís ocht n-airm n-indÃlatha co lúas faindle nó gaíthe nó chliabaig dar róe maige. Ro suidiged in carpat sin for dá n-echaib díana dremna dásachtacha cendbeca cruindbeca corrbeca biruích bascind bruinnederg sesta suachinte sogabálta ... ... then the brave chariot-fighter lept into his sickled battle-chariot with its iron sickles, with its slicing edges, with its hooks, and with its hardpointed places, with its heroic spikes, with its weapons opened, with its flying nails that were on the shafts and straps and loops and cords of that chariot. Here is how that chariot was: its frame open and thin, open and firm, high enough for feats, sword-straight, heroic so that the headhero’s eight weapons would fit in it, yet with the speed of a swallow or wind or wild boar across the level plain. That chariot was set on two swift, frantic, furious horses, small-headed, small and round-bodied, small-muzzled, pointy-eared, wide-hoofed, red-chested, steady, sure, well-harnessed ...14

(III) A formulaic style found primarily in passages of teichoscopy and other descriptions. Often more than one character is described in catalogue fashion, and the descriptions are usually spoken by a reporter to an audience. There is a set order for the elements in the descriptions. The passages have few verbs or conjunctions, and the language has a formulaic structure. Some of these passages have been identified as remnants of oral formulaic poetry (Slotkin 1977). The following, from two sequential descriptions toward the end of TBC, are typical. “Tánic buiden aile ann didiu isin telaig a Slemain Midi,” or Mac Roth, “ siat adlóechda imtholtonach. Ocláech odarda mór lecanÃota ina harinach. Folt donn cráebach fair. Brat derg fo loí chaín imbi. Léne dergscoigthi. Claideb dercscoigthi co n-imdurnn findarcaid fora chlíu. Scíath derg fair. Manaís leathanglas for dúal altchaín uindsenn ina láim.”...

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“Tánic buiden aile and didiu isin telaich i Slemain Midi,” or Mac Roth. “Is aidbliu trícha cét a faircsi. Láech uchtget rochóem ina hairinach, cosmail fri hAilill ucut itir mét  maisi  dechelt  errad. Mind óir húasa mullach. Brat dergscoigthi imbi hi forcibal. Bretnas óir isin brot fora bruindib. Léne co ndergindliud i custul imbi. Scíath bémnech co n-imlib óir fair. Tuiri rigthaigi ina láim. Claideb óirduirn iarna Ãormna.” “Then another company came onto the hill at Slemain Midi,” Mac Roth said, “they were very warriorlike and eager. A tall, sallow, long-cheeked young man leading them, With brown, bushy hair. A red cloak of fair fleece around him. An outstanding shirt. A gold brooch in the cloak at his shoulder. An outstanding sword with fair silver hilt at his left side. A red shield on him. A broad grey stabbing-spear on a fair jointed coil of ash in his hand.”... “Then another company came onto the hill at Slemain Midi,” Mac Roth said. “They looked to be more than three thousand. A bright-breasted, very fair warrior leading them, Similar to Ailill over there in size and good looks and dress and gear. A gold crown on his head. An outstanding cloak around him in pleats. A gold British brooch in the cloak over his chest. A shirt with red interweaving wrapped tightly around him. A striking shield with gold edges on him. A king’s house-pillar in his hand. A gold-hilted sword across his back.”15

(IV) Passages called rosc (pl. roscada) or “rhetorics”. Since many of the passages are marked in the manuscripts by “.r.” in the margin, it is evident that medieval scribes recognized them as a distinct formal element. Similarly in modern scholarship they have been distinguished stylistically from the general prose since the earliest work was done on Old Irish texts in the nineteenth century. Until the last few decades, however, many of the roscada were

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interpreted as prose, but recent scholarship has suggested that most, if not all, are poems composed according to archaic metrical principles that had been largely superseded by the eighth century. The roscada are characterized by lines of a set number of stresses, by internal alliteration or alliteration binding lines, and by a final cadence. There are both long-line and short-line metres, and at times there is a mixture of line length or cadence type in a single poem. In the case of lines of two cola, the first half of the line generally has a variable number of syllables and is separated from the final cadence by a word boundary. Most often there is no rigid stanzaic pattern to this type of poetry; the lines follow seriatim and stanzas are of irregular length. Roscada contain archaic or arcane words and forms, including many compound words; moreover, the roscada are often nominal in structure or have other syntactical features which make the syntactical relations between phrases ambiguous. Thus, the roscada often seem to be intentionally obscure; this obscurity may be partially referred to the mantic nature of Celtic poetry and the mantic functions of the early Irish poet-seers.16 Normally, like other poems in early Irish narratives, roscada are spoken by characters in the course of the action, as the following passage illustrates, in which the god Lug17 sings a charm over his son, the hero Cú Chulainn. Thus, like V below, the roscada are usually instantiations of illocutionary acts. The poem translated below illustrates a long-line passage of rosc with lines of two cola.18 Canaid a chéle ferdord dó, contuli friss co n-accae nách crecht and ropo glan. Is and asbert Lug: .r. E@li Loga inso sís “Atraí, a meic mór Ulad fót láncréchtaib curetha fri náimtiu fer melldarath móradaig todonathar dia ferragaib sligethar slúaig immenard nerethar fortacht a síd sóerfudut issin mruig ar conathaib cot anmuim arÃucherthar fóchiallathar óengillae arclith ar búaib báifedae slig delb silsa ríut. Ni fil leó do nertáegul fer do baraind bruthaigte co niurt for do lochtnamtib cing it charput comglinni is iar sin atrai.”

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His companion sang a manly chant to him. He fell asleep to it and Lug saw that every wound on him was healed. Then Lug said: .r. The Éle Loga, The Incantation of Lug, here below. Rise up, great son of Ulster cast off your healed wounds a man, sweet stranger, against foes in the long night comes consolation from his manly choices hewing hosts around the height aid from the síd will free you in farmed field, at the dog’s fords with your steadfastness vanquishing a single lad is on guard he defends cattle, his true lord strike a shape, I will strike before you none of them has your life’s strength pour your furious anger forcefully over your flawed foes step into your steady chariot after this, rise up.19

(V) Passages of stanzaic, rhymed, syllabic poetry. The syllabic poems are composed in a large variety of intricate metres that were current in Ireland from the seventh to the seventeenth century; such poetry normally has a specified number of syllables per line and is ornamented with rhyme and other sound correspondences. The various metres were named and codified by the poets.20 As with IV above, the syllabic poetry is found in the narratives as speeches that are generally classifiable as illocutionary acts. Usually the syllabic poetry in any given narrative exhibits a variety of metres, rather than being uniform, and often the poetry in narratives is less strict metrically than the examples of specific metres in metrical tracts might suggest. The following is an extract from a lament spoken by Cú Chulainn after Fer Diad’s death; the poetic form is heptasyllabic rhyming quatrains, rhymed aabb, with rhyme occuring between words of unequal length and, hence, between stressed and unstressed syllables.21 “Is trúag aní nar tá de, ’nar Ådaltánaib Scáthaiche, missi créchtach ba chrú rúad, tussu gan charptiu d’imlúad. Is trúag aní nar tá de ’nar Ådaltánaib Scáthaiche,

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Is trúag aní nar tá de ’nar Ådaltánaib Scáthaige tussu d’éc, missi beó brass is gleó ferge in ferachas.” “Wretched what has happened to us, Scathach’s fosterlings: I wounded, red and gory you unable to drive away. Wretched what has happened to us, Scathach’s fosterlings: I wounded, sore and gory you stone dead. Wretched what has happened to us, Scathach’s fosterlings: you dead, I alive and gloating. Manhood is a war of wrath.”22

These five formal elements are the foundation of the textual heterogeneity in early Irish narratives, but heterogeneity also enters in such things as the metrical virtuosity and variability of the poetry, the wide range of registers in the narration and dialogue, the variability of tone, and the variety of text types included as well. Not every early Irish tale has all five of these formal elements or all of the other types of textual heterogeneity that characterize Irish narrative; naturally, the shorter stories are less likely to display the formal richness of a long text like TBC. Nevertheless, none of the formal types enumerated above (and none of the other heterogeneous textual elements) is restricted to the text of TBC itself, and typically narratives are composed of more than two types of formal elements. Thus, the formal questions raised by TBC are representative of translation problems posed by most early Irish narratives. The formal structure of TBC can be characterized in the following ways. First, the bulk of the story is narrated in straightforward, relatively simple, unornamented prose. In contrast to the prose are highly wrought, ornamented inserts characterized by such features as alliteration or rhyme, formulaic structure, rhythm or stress patterning, syllabic count, or stanzaic structure, as well as unusual vocabulary and syntax. TBC shows remnants of three types of poetry which are vastly different in their poetics yet which share the parameter of being

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spoken utterances, that is illocutionary and perlocutionary acts, within the narrative framework. To be precise, while I and II above are part of the narration, certain formal types, namely III, IV, and V, normally appear only in speeches by characters within the narrative. Thus, TBC is typical of the main lines of early Celtic narrative discussed above: narrative occurs in prose, and there is no narrative poetry of the sort found elsewhere in European literature. Let us turn to the ten translations of TBC to examine their strategies for rendering the complex and subtle form of TBC. The first approach to translating the form is simplification and suppression of formal elements. In the extreme this tactic results in the radical elimination of textual heterogeneity through suppression of either the prose forms or the poetic forms of the source text; that is, either the prose is given dominance and the poetry represented as prose, or the narrative is given entirely in poetry. The assimilation of the poetic forms to prose is epitomized by Augusta Gregory’s translation of TBC. Gregory renders the poems that she translates as prose dialogue. Her only concession to poetic form is to begin a new paragraph where the source text has a new stanza.23 A similar technique for rendering TBC essentially as prose narrative consists in suppressing the poetry, either by abbreviating it or by omitting it altogether from the translation. This is the basic tactic of Hull’s summary. She rarely indicates the presence of a poem by more than the indented translation of the first line, often failing to note the presence of the poetry at all. Other translators, particularly Faraday, also slant their translations toward prose narrative by omitting significant poetic passages. The opposite sort of simplification of textual heterogeneity and suppression of formal elements is seen in Hutton’s translation. Hutton presents the entire text of TBC as blank verse; thus, narrative poetic form swallows up prose narrative in Hutton’s text. Indeed, since Hutton subsumes many other stories into the framework of TBC, in effect she turns a good portion of the Ulster Cycle into poetic narrative. Hutton’s strategy reifies the common belief at the period that the extant materials were remnants of a lost poetic epic which was, so to speak, thus restored and reconstructed in Hutton’s translation.24 These translation strategies represent the assimilation of Irish form to foreign literary patterns, and they involve generic shifts, largely for the purposes of valorizing the Irish texts.25 Either the five-fold mixture of prose and poetry is represented in translation as prose tale (with perhaps occasional, almost aberrant poetic speech) or it is represented in translation as extended epic verse. At the turn of the century generic models for the former in the literary canon included prose folktale and Icelandic saga, two genres which had been incorporated into the canonized body of European literature in the nineteenth century.

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Hutton’s strategy, by contrast, represents Irish hero tale in terms of the more prestigious literary genre of the verse epic. Thus, the form of her translation suggests that TBC belongs to the constellation of epics, including the classical epics such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, as well as The Song of Roland, Beowulf, and other medieval verse epics.26 In this mode of representing TBC in translation, there are also shifts on the level of style that correspond to the shifts in genre. On the one hand Hutton’s translation is in a very high literary style, and there are formulas and epithets not found in the Irish source texts.27 Her language, thus, has a “Homeric” ring, and the similarity is reinforced by the division of the translated text into “books”, a form of structural segmentation that increases the suggestion of similarity to classical epic form. Gregory, on the other hand, one of the principal translators to represent TBC completely as prose narrative, uses an Irish folk dialect of English − the Kiltartan speech − for her translation and divides the text into relatively short narrative chapters that suggest a collection of folktales. Hutton’s elevated language goes with the generic “elevation” of the Irish form to pure narrative verse; Gregory’s folksy language is in keeping with her generic assimilation of the early Irish mixed form to the form of prose folktale. The second principal approach to representing the five-fold form of TBC also involves a generic shift and textual simplification (including simplification of the formal heterogeneity of Irish narrative), but not to such an extreme extent as the foregoing. The alternation of formal elements in the Irish text is acknowledged, but the five contrasting formal elements are collapsed into the two broader categories of poetry and prose. In this orientation the Irish form comes to be represented as “prosimetrum”, a definition of Irish form proposed by Ernst Windisch as early as 1879, reiterated periodically, and restated most forcefully in 1947 by Myles Dillon.28 Windisch had taken the view that Irish hero tales offered the closest parallel to Sanskrit tales in the brAhmaÆas, tales narrated in prose with some characters’ speeches in verse. Thus, claiming the prestige of an antiquity antedating even that of Greek epic for the Irish form, Windisch maintained that far from being a departure in Western epic tradition, Irish hero tale preserved an archaic form predating the development of the Indo-European verse epic, thus valorizing Irish narrative by suggesting the extreme antiquity of its formal structures.29 It is possible that Windisch’s theory is of continuing usefulness as a model for the diachronic development of the form of early Irish hero tale. However, as a description of the synchronic form of early Irish narrative surviving in the extant early manuscripts − and of the form of surviving versions of TBC in particular − Windisch’s formulation is clearly insufficient. The prosimetrum

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model fails to distinguish the principle of four ornamented formal elements which contrast with the narrative prose in the texts as they stand, and it obscures the clear differences among the poetic forms. The success of the prosimetrum analysis must be seen as a scholarly representation intended to link Irish literature to literary works which were already familiar to the scholarly community and which had already won acceptance and come to command prestige within scholarly canons of Western literature. As a code promoting the integration of Irish tale into canons of world literature, Windisch’s interpretation and representation of Irish form is similar to the popular representations of Gregory or Hutton, and it has no privileged status as an objective final statement about Irish formalism. The prosimetrum definition of Irish form, with its attendant schematization of Irish narrative as a two-level form rather than as a five-level form, was anticipated in the first translation of TBC, Sullivan’s version of the Fer Diad episode. Sullivan translated the section of the tale which is most amenable to the prosimetrum formulation, a section which has less formal richness than TBC as a whole: there are no extended passages of the alliterative prose of type II above; type III is restricted to a single description and, thus, the formulaic elements in type III, which emerge in extended catalogues, need not be marked; and there are also only two short roscada. Moreover, the Fer Diad section is almost half syllabic poetry and the syllabic poetry is very evenly distributed. In these various respects the text of the Fer Diad section is atypical of the overall form of TBC: the full text has greater formal variation, a much smaller percentage of poetry, and a less even distribution of poetry. The selection which Sullivan chose to publish suggests a more regular and simple narrative form than that of any of the recensions of TBC. Still another way of assimilating Irish narrative form to the prosimetrum model is exemplified by Faraday’s translation. Faraday quite simply suppresses the roscada, going so far as to justify this practice on theoretical grounds: “The so-called rhetorics are omitted in translating; they are passages known in Irish as rosc, often partly alliterative, but not measured. They are usually meaningless strings of words, with occasional intelligible phrases. In all probability the passages aimed at sound, with only a general suggestion of the drift” (1904:xx). Taking a similar tack, as late as 1967 O’Rahilly omitted the roscada from her translation presumably on the philological grounds that they presented too many linguistic problems to admit of an accurate English rendering. Whatever the reason, the omission of the roscada de facto reduces the Irish form from a five-level system. Moreover, because II and III above can be conceptualized as simple variants of prose style and because the roscada are the most distinct

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formal element, forcing the recognition of at least a three-level narrative system, the omission of the passages of rosc is the simplest way to facilitate the prosimetrum definition of Irish form. The prosimetrum representation of Irish narrative form was probably very comfortable in scholarly circles, because the prosimetrum was well established in scholarly canons of Western literature by the late nineteenth century, as has already been indicated. Even if scholars were not familiar with the Sanskrit texts Windisch cited, they knew of other prosimetra − Menippean satire, Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, and the delightful twelfth-century French parody of romance entitled Aucassin and Nicolette were well known to scholars of classical and medieval literature, for example. More importantly, by the middle of the nineteenth century The Arabian Nights was familiar to scholars and general readers alike, particularly after the English translation by Richard Burton. Moreover, the form of the prosimetrum had been adapted by nineteenthcentury writers, including Sir Walter Scott (for example in Ivanhoe, which has inset lyric verses and songs attributed to the characters).30 Indeed, just to set Irish hero tales in the company of these literary works was to make the Irish texts respectable; the prosimetrum representation, therefore, lent prestige to the formal properties of Irish narrative. The similarities notwithstanding, Irish narrative is quite different from most other medieval narrative forms mixing prose and poetry. Thus, for example, Boethius’s Consolation and Aucassin and Nicolette both have a rather regular pattern of alternation between poetry and prose; moreover, in these works the narrative line is carried by the poetry as well as the prose, and poetry is not restricted in function to direct speech. In addition, neither has radically different types of verse or a system of strikingly different prose types as the Irish texts do. Similar problems in the comparison of TBC and Sanskrit texts have already been raised.31 As early as 1905 Leahy had written about the importance of the roscada, observing in the introduction to his collection of translations: it may be suggested that the total omission of [the roscada] injures the literary effect of a [tale], in a manner similar to the effect of omitting all the choric pieces in a Greek tragedy: the rhetoric indeed, on account of its irregularity, its occasional strophic correspondence, its general independence of the action of the tale, and its difficulty as compared with the other passages, may be compared very closely to a Greek “chorus”. (1905-06:1.xi)

Significantly, his defence of the roscada is phrased in terms of an analogy with another genre already holding a well-recognized and prestigious place in Euro-

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pean literature. Leahy’s remarks indicate that the passages of rosc might have been recognized as essential elements to translate had they been accepted as analogues of a form like the Greek choral ode, which was widely understood and respected by general and scholarly readers alike. To use the theoretical terminology of James Holmes (1994:81-91), Leahy gives a map for an English equivalence of the Irish form which is different from the prosimetrum map; in Leahy’s map the roscada are essential elements. It was the prosimetrum formulation, however, that won out in scholarly circles rather than Leahy’s representation, in part perhaps because Leahy’s formulation led to a comparison with a dramatic form, where comparisons with narrative forms were more useful for the purposes of cultural nationalism.32 Consequently the roscada of TBC were by and large ignored in English translations even by scholars, indeed especially by scholars; the syllabic poetry of Irish tales sufficed to suggest comparison with other prosimetra in world literature and the reduction of the number of formal types in Irish tales facilitated the assimilation of the Irish form with this international type.33 By 1914, when Dunn published his translation of TBC, the prosimetrum model had become the dominant analogue used to facilitate the reception of Irish narrative form. The formulation needed no apology, particularly in scholarly circles. Dunn was the first to translate TBC into English as a prose narrative which also included all the syllabic poetry translated in poetic form. Dunn also translated the few lines of rosc found in the TBC manuscript he was using as the foundation of his translation, rendering the rosc simply as non-stanzaic poetry.34 In the case of TBC, the prosimetrum model of Irish form is strengthened by the use of the twelfth century-version of the tale in the Book of Leinster − a version with considerably less rosc than the earlier eighth-century text − as the basis of translation. Not surprisingly, Windisch, a major proponent of the prosimetrum formulation, edited and translated the twelfth-century text in his 1905 German edition and translation. Dunn, following Windisch’s work, also used the Book of Leinster for his translation, and that has been the preferred text for critical discussion since.35 In scholarly circles the prosimetrum model of Irish narrative continues to dominate discussions of Irish narrative form, and it is reflected in translations of other early texts besides TBC, as well as in many scholarly works of criticism. This formal model brings with it, as we have seen, a tendency to suppress or downplay the passages of rosc. It is therefore not surprising that even in the latest edition of TBC, O’Rahilly (1976) edited and translated most of the roscada as prose. Although she also translated the syllabic poetry as prose, O’Rahilly marked the syllabic stanzas as formally distinct by indenting the poems and

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spacing between stanzas; many of the passages of rosc, however, are not even indented in her 1976 edition and translation, and accordingly their status as poetry is almost totally effaced.36 The third major approach to representing the complex form of TBC in translation is found in Kinsella’s 1969 version, The Táin. This text is a watershed in the history of translating TBC, because Kinsella attempts to represent all five formal elements of early Irish narrative by distinct English forms. He neither reduces the text to poetry or prose, nor does he adopt the two-level prosimetrum model for his translation. Kinsella’s interest in the formal heterogeneity of Irish narrative is also signalled by his choice of TBC version upon which to base his translation: the earliest version of TBC, which has extensive passages of rosc, including a 90-line rather obscure exchange between the principal characters. To present the roscada as distinct from both the stanzaic poetry and the prose, Kinsella adapts a modern poetic form for his translations: he uses the “stepped line”, marked by a line break and indentation to represent the prosody of the rosc, which commonly involves a line of two cola separated by a word boundary, as we have seen.37 It might be tempting to say that Kinsella’s translation strategy is an attempt to take the audience to the text, while other translators were content to take the text to the audience. This is perhaps partly the case, but it obscures an essential point. It is more accurate to say that Kinsella’s translation strategy also depends on codes of the English-language literary tradition, observing that the forms and genres which lie behind his translation codes are different from those of his predecessors. In Kinsella’s translation twentieth-century literature provides the reference points and models for his formal representations, while previous translations depend on the forms of older and more established canonical works − including Sanskrit scripture, classical epic, medieval literature, folktale, and so forth. Formal changes in European literature during the sixtyyear period between Kinsella and the previous popular translators (Gregory and Hutton) are operative in determining Kinsella’s translation strategy. Two developments in twentieth-century literature in English are particularly relevant to Kinsella’s representation of Irish form. Most important is the widespread use and acceptance of free verse; it is obviously important in this regard that Kinsella is a leading twentieth-century Irish poet who himself writes free verse, a member of the second generation of poets after W. B. Yeats, the generation which introduced free verse and imagism extensively into Irish poetry.38 In translating early Irish narrative, Kinsella was able to perceive and transpose the rosc as a distinct poetic form in part because of the prevalence of contemporary English-language poetry without strict measures. That is, because

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twentieth-century literature provided poetic models of free verse as well as strict metres, Kinsella and his English-speaking audience had available a conceptual grid for literary forms within which they could situate both the roscada and the stanzaic rhymed syllabic verse as distinct but equally acceptable early Irish poetic forms.39 As we have seen, until the 1960s many roscada were not recognized as poetry by scholars; they were often viewed as elaborate alliterative and rhythmic prose. Though there is still debate about the metrics of these passages in general and about the specifics of most individual passages, it is now almost universally agreed that the roscada are poetry, and this view came into its own during the decade Kinsella was translating.40 It is interesting to realize that simultaneously with the development of the scholarly analysis of the metrics of the roscada, Kinsella was adapting the stepped metrical line of twentiethcentury English-language poetry to represent the poetic type of the rosc. His choice is surprisingly appropriate: the stepped form suggests the caesura which breaks the longer Irish lines into half lines, and the short lines of the English form represent the Irish half lines reasonably well; moreover, the lack of punctuation helps capture the syntactical flexibility, as well as the ambiguity and semantic openness of the Irish poems. But Kinsella did not invent this English “equivalent”. He was in a position to recognize and represent the formal variation of early Irish literature in his translation because of a change in Englishlanguage poetics and the availability of a preexisting English literary code that could be used to mirror some of the contrasts of the Irish formal system. The metrical properties of the roscada − lack of rhyme, absence of fixed syllabic count, some variability in line length and accentual pattern, and ambiguous syntactical structure − are congenial to the poetics of free verse and imagism, which concatenates small elements, themselves to be apprehended as wholes. The second literary development of the twentieth century germane to the formal representations in Kinsella’s translation is the rise of heterogeneous prose narrative, a literary model epitomized by James Joyce’s Ulysses. By the time Kinsella was translating TBC, English poetics had been loosed from the expectation that narrative should have a sustained and uniform prose style or that it should be composed of a single text type. The freedom to mix prose styles and text types enjoyed by the modern novel provides a framework for the conceptualization, the translation, and the reception of the different prose and poetic types in Kinsella’s TBC, as well as for other types of heterogeneity of early Irish narrative which Kinsella represents (such as the mixed tone, the incorporation of “non-literary” text types, and even inconsistencies of content characteristic of oral variants). Behind Kinsella’s ability to translate the

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five-level form of early Irish tales with distinct English-language poetic and prose types, lie models from twentieth-century literature, specifically models provided by Irish writers using English, including Kinsella’s great Irish precursors, James Joyce and Flann O’Brien. If Kinsella’s translation of TBC surprises because of its modern and postmodern flavour, that is partly due to Kinsella’s use of modern and postmodern literary forms − forms to some extent pioneered in English by Irish writers − to represent the formal qualities of the early Irish text. His twentieth-century treatment of form reinforces his twentiethcentury sensibility regarding content, including sexuality, scatological elements, the grotesque, and so forth, which he represents in the translated text.41 It is intriguing to speculate that Kinsella’s translation strategy reflects a sort of positive feedback loop: Kinsella’s representation of early Irish literature was influenced by the textual innovations of writers such as Joyce, and Joyce in turn assumed the freedoms he did in both form and content in part because of intertextual resonance between his work and early Irish literature.42 Three approaches to the representation of the form of early Irish hero tale have been examined here: (1) the use of formal codes which simplify Irish narrative and assimilate it either to prose tale or to poetic epic; (2) the deployment of a formal code which reduces the form of Irish hero tale to the two-level system of the prosimetrum; and (3) the development of a formal code which represents all five elements of the Irish narrative form in terms of twentiethcentury modern and postmodern literary models. All of these approaches were influenced by the literary standards known to and accepted by the intended receiving audiences of the translations. They are all, thus, translation strategies dependent on the formal codes of the receiving English-language literary tradition accepted at different points in time or by different segments of the audience. It is clear that TBC was integrated into European and specifically English-language literature by being translated in terms of preexisting literary models,43 by being assimilated to preexisting literary forms and canonical works. In retrospect all the formal strategies of the English translators of TBC can be seen as appropriate and useful, for they all helped TBC gain acceptance and recognition outside its original cultural setting at different periods by a receptor audience with evolving expectations of literature. This example of translation from early Irish lterature is a revealing specific case pointing to more wide-ranging theoretical conclusions. The history of the translation of TBC illustrates that the reception of a minority-culture text involves a dialectic between assimilation to and alteration of the standards of the receiving culture, that the perception and acceptance of difference are constrained by the codes that exist in the receptor culture. It is sobering to note in

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the translation record the strength of the resistance to the transposition of the form of early Irish narrative into English − the necessity of assimilating the form to the nearest forms already existing in the English literary repertory, whether as a result of indigenous literary models or as a result of forms already incorporated into the English literary system through translation and scholarly discourse. The resistance to and manipulation of Irish formalism are related to a process of simplification that Itamar Even-Zohar calls “secondarization”, found in the treatment of formal innovations within a literary system: ... a process of reduction takes place. For instance, heterogeneous models are transformed into homogeneous models; the number of incompatible patterns ... within the same structure is reduced; complex relations are gradually replaced by less complex and so on. ... We are facing a general semiotic mechanism rather than an exclusively literary one ... The process of “secondarization” of the primary [innovative forms] ... is further reinforced by a parallel mechanism of “secondarization”, by which a system manages to repress innovation. By such a process, new elements are retranslated, as it were, into the old terms, thus imposing previous functions on new carriers rather than changing the functions ... Semiotically speaking, this is a mechanism by which the less immediately understandable, the less decipherable, becomes more so. The less familiar, and hence more intimidating, demanding, and loaded with information, becomes more familiar, less intimidating, and so on. Empirically, this seems to be what the overwhelming majority of culture consumers really prefer, and when one desires to control them, this preference will be fully met. (1990:21-22)

Speaking later of translations specifically, Even-Zohar observes that “texts are often translated in accordance with the most secondarized models available in the target literature”, making “an impression of ‘epigonic’ products” because such a strategy serves to identify any text “as properly ‘literary’ and subsequently acceptable” (1990:24-25). The extent of the resistance to the formal properties of early Irish narrative − formal properties that were actually part of the heritage of European culture and that deviated relatively little from canonized models − illustrates the braking mechanisms that exist in the contemporary reception of cultural variance, say of the literary forms of postcolonial or minority peoples. The demands for masking − specifically for presenting subaltern cultures in the guise of models and standards recognized and authorized by a receiving dominant culture − are omnipresent and difficult to circumvent. Such demands for masking reinforce cultural hegemony and militate against the exchange of information between disparate cultural systems, particularly

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along the vertical lines of cultural prestige. When translators, historians, literary critics, and scholars alike understand this process, they are more prepared to meet the resistance of a receiving culture, say with metatextual commentary on the formal models being imported, as well as with other methods, including strategies of translation that involve the assertion of cultural difference.44 At the same time, it must be understood that for a work to be accepted by a receiving audience, the information load of a translated text must remain manageable, especially when a literary work is first presented in translation and when both the content and the form diverge from the cultural norms of the receiving audience, particularly if, as Even-Zohar observes, one wishes to control or influence a popular audience, as the Irish translators did. When minority-culture texts are presented in translation to a resistant dominant culture, translators often choose to privilege metonymies other than formal ones, as we saw in chapter 2, meeting the formal preferences of the “culture consumers” so as to influence, manipulate, or control them in areas other than literary poetics, areas such as politics or ideology in the case of early Irish literature in English translation, for example.45 In the history of the formal strategies used to translate TBC, one can read such a record of metonymic hierarchies for translating early Irish texts. The fact that there was no close formal representation until Kinsella’s translation is an indication that representing Irish formalism was a relatively low priority for translators during the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century struggle against colonialism, at the period when there was a concerted attempt to assert an independent Irish culture. Paradoxically, instead of showcasing the distinctive indigenous form of Irish heroic narration and asserting cultural difference, popular translations − those most useful to Irish nationalism − used two valorized formal models from English letters: verse epic (a representation of Irish form adapted from Macpherson’s eighteenth-century views of Celtic narrative) and prose folktale (a representation linked to the growth of nationalism all across Europe in the nineteenth century). One way of understanding these formal choices is to see translation as a commissive act: a translation promises to represent a source text by producing or enacting the same type of text for the receiving audience (Van den Broeck 1993:50-51). Translations of TBC that were intended to be literary works in their own right − to be performatives, representing the literary works of medieval Ireland by literary works for the receiving audiences − chose established, even epigonic, formal codes which signalled clearly to their English-language audiences that they were to be read as literature.46 The translation record of TBC indicates that the representation of aspects of the content of Irish tales

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rather than the form was of the greatest importance to translators before 1922. The content was presented as an example of primary myth; as evidence of the antiquity, independence, and substance of Irish culture; as a common heritage for Irish people; as the imaginative stimulus and foundation for the emerging Irish literature and culture in English; and so forth. The content of the tales was also represented so as to highlight its ideological value in modelling a new ethos of heroic and militant nationalism, as was discussed in the last chapter. These values anticipate Frantz Fanon’s programmatic use of the past of a colonized nation: “The colonised man who writes for his people ought to use the past with the intention of opening the future, as an invitation to action and a basis for hope” ([1961] 1966:187). In comparison with these metonymic priorities, representing the precise nature of Irish literary formalism was clearly of secondary importance and, hence, it was sufficient to use established English formal signals which would be perceived as literature per se by the intended audience, thus fulfilling the commissive aspect of translation and commanding cultural prestige.47 There were, however, two major centres of activity in the creation of an Irish literature in English at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth: translation and other forms of literary refraction as a mode of reclaiming and recuperating Ireland’s noble and ancient literary heritage on the one hand, and the creation of a new Irish literature in English on the other hand.48 A major feature of the emerging Irish literature in English was the production of literary works imbued with Irish myth. Begun in the nineteenth century, the impetus culminated in Yeats and in Joyce. Yeats more than any writer before him found ways to use surface retellings and manipulations of Irish myth to express his own ideas, feelings, and thematic concerns.49 Joyce pioneered using Irish myth as a architectonic structure around which the surface naturalism of his narratives was created. One way of conceptualizing the half-century gap in the translation history of TBC, the gap between the Dunn translation and the first O’Rahilly translation, is to say that the period was filled with literary refractions of early Irish myth and literature that took the form of the creation of primary literary works in English. Among such works are most of Yeats’s Cú Chulainn plays, Yeats’s revitalization and adaptation of other Irish myths in his poetry and dramas, and Joyce’s transpositions of Irish myths in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, as well as works by James Stephens, Flann O’Brien, Austin Clarke, Thomas Kinsella, John Montague, and others, all manipulating, reworking, and representing Irish literature and myth in their own literary creations. The literary enterprise of formal experimentation and expansion in English

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through the incorporation of Irish formalism into English was also, paradoxically, carried out primarily in the arena of literary production in English, rather than through the representation of Irish forms in translation. A counterpart to the conservative formal strategies used by literary translators to translate ancient Irish literature is the explosion of avant-garde formalism practised by many Irish writers using English, a formalism indebted to Irish literature that illustrates once again the connection between translation and literary production. It is no accident that the masters of heterogeneous narratives in English in the first half of the twentieth century are James Joyce and Flann O’Brien, writers who anticipate the postmodernist techniques in the second half of the century. Similarly it is no accident that new ways of conceiving the sound structures of English poetry are pioneered by Irish poets working in English, or that a new type of drama is found in the work of Yeats (featuring some of the ritualized and stylized aspects of Irish speech poems found in the early Irish narratives).50 These formal experiments all draw on the poetics and formalism of early Irish literature; the literary experimentation by Irish writers using English in the twentieth century finds its context in Irish literature as much as in English. Thus, one might argue that the experiments with transposing aspects of Irish form which could have happened in the realm of translation happened instead in the realm of literary creation.51 These Irish writers were the first postcolonial writers to substantially enrich the colonizers’ literature by the incorporation of native formalism, mythos, and mythopoeic imagery into their dominant-language writing, an enrichment process that has become increasingly familiar as the empire writes back. The new interest in translating TBC in the second half of the twentieth century was motivated in part by the necessity of reclaiming the philological tradition and resituating it within English-language scholarly culture, thereby in a sense repatriating scholarship related to early Irish literature from Germany, a particular necessity after World War II in which Ireland’s allegiances to the triumphal powers had been dubious at best. The work of editing and translating TBC done by Cecile O’Rahilly, for example, was published by the state-subsidized Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and can, thus, be viewed as in some ways a matter of national interest. Paradoxically, although O’Rahilly’s state-sponsored translations of TBC are translations of central elements of the national literary heritage, they are not literary translations; they are scholarly documents that fail to satisfy the commissive aspects of translation, the implications of which will be taken up again in chapter 9. In terms of literary performance − translation as a commissive act − Kinsella’s translation of TBC is the only version of the second half of the twentieth cen-

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tury that represents TBC as literature, that is the same type of text as the medieval antecedent. Kinsella’s translation also reveals a new metonymic hierarchy. A century of refractions establishing and emphasizing the heroic content of the early Irish texts (as well as a half century of Irish independence) left Kinsella free to turn to other priorities. Indeed his historical and literary moment left him free to interrogate some of the most cherished patriotic pieties regarding heroism and move beyond the rehearsal of a familiar militant nationalism. The “wildness” of his heroes and the sexual and scatological elements represented in his translation stress aspects of the text that fit with a shift away from the Catholic constrictions of de Valera’s Ireland. Kinsella’s values can be seen in his acceptance of the earthiness, the absurdity, and the humour of TBC, as well as in the problematizing of heroism in his translations. Moreover, his representation of Irish form indicates that he privileged formal qualities; not surprisingly, his translation reflects the formalist literary interests of the second half of the twentieth century. Kinsella’s priorities reflect the concerns of the Irish literary avant-garde that emerged after World War II, an avant-garde indebted to the innovative Irish writers who had used English earlier in the century, notably Joyce, and freed from the cultural frameworks of Britain, the former colonial power. Finally, by prefacing his translation of TBC with a collection of remscéla or ‘foretales’, he emphasizes TBC self-reflexively as text, shifting the focus away from a biographical framework for nationalist conceptions of heroism. Thus, Kinsella’s translation moves toward a decolonized representation, transcending both colonial constraint and nationalist reaction. A type of reciprocal relationship existed between translation and literary creation in Ireland in the twentieth century. Translations affected literary creation, which in turn shifted translation standards and made possible new types of translations. The Irish forms that were one stimulus to the formalism of Yeats, Joyce, and others became transmuted in English-language writing by Irish authors, so as to present in turn a new horizon of possibility for later translations of early Irish literature. Though the translations of early Irish texts bear the impress of colonization up through the period of the foundation of the Irish state, ironically thereafter the strong Irish imprint on English-language literary production was central in shifting the very definition and substance of English-language narrative and poetry later in the twentieth century. In turn these developments lead to the decolonization of translations of Irish literature itself in Ireland and to a more adequate representation of early Irish formalism in its primary locus, the translation of early Irish texts. As with any literary work, the ultimate acceptance of Táin Bó Cúailnge into Western literary canons inevitably changed those canons, and the ways in

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which the concept of European literature was affected after the reception of TBC may itself be a significant aspect of the translation history of the form of TBC. By being seen in various guises − by being represented on the one hand as prose folktale by Gregory and on the other hand as Greek epic by Hutton, for example − TBC and Irish hero tale in general had a part in changing the definition of epic. Those who accept Irish narrative with its mixed form, a form that in translation could be rendered either as prose folktale or as verse epic, that has affinities with both, must ultimately also acknowledge that folktales and epics are not so different as had been thought in the nineteenth century. Thus, the integration of Irish hero tale into European literature (in which process the alternate translation codes were essential) helped pave the way for the acceptance of the Parry-Lord theory of the oral composition of epic. That theory holds that the singers of epic, including Homer, used methods and resources of oral composition that are not radically different from those of the tellers of folktales, resources such as a traditional repertory of motifs that provide building blocks for the narration, as well as traditional techniques for the extempore production of text.52 By being translated in various ways and by being defined in terms of a number of different literary types, TBC in turn helped to redefine accepted conceptions of those literary types, of the boundaries between various literary types, and of literature itself. Thus, the history of translating Irish formalism illustrates that translation is an alternate model by which people come to understand literary form. Translation is parallel to scholarship but independent and distinct from it as a mode of exploring a literary text and, by extension, literature or culture in general. This epistemological aspect of translation has yet to be fully incorporated into the theory of translation.53 In the case of TBC, translation has clearly been a mode of discovery. Changes in the translation strategies for TBC parallel progress in conventional research on Irish form, yet translation strategies did not change solely because of scholarship, nor are all the strategies dependent primarily on scholarship. Indeed, as I have suggested, those strategies tied to scholarly theories of Irish form did not necessarily have any privileged epistemological status in illuminating the nature of Irish formalism.54 If, in fact, as in the case of Irish hero tale, translation is always a mode of discovery and understanding, it becomes clear again why there can never be a single right way of translating a work or any final perfect translation: despite resistance to the unfamiliar, there is no end to the process of learning and comprehending.

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Notes to Chapter 3 1. Kiberd (1995, 1998) argues that rather than being backward looking, for the past 150 years Ireland has been “the crucible of modernity”, to a large extent because of its resiliance in the face of extreme social pressures exerted upon Irish society by colonialism and attendant ills. 2. There are, of course, stunning exceptions to this generalization, notably the eighteenth-century Irish work entitled Cúirt an Mheadhón Oidhche, ‘The Midnight Court’, by Brian Merriman. 3. Most of the verses inserted in Irish narratives are examples of what are known in speech act theory as “illocutionary acts”. See, for example, Austin [1962] 1975:98ff.; Searle 1969:ch. 3. One might posit that in medieval Ireland, certain illocutionary acts involved specialized form and rhetoric, language in a formal, even ritualized, register. Such speech acts often, but not always, are represented in the narratives as poetry. For an example of a ritualized formal greeting in TBC which is given in a very high and ornamented register of prose see O’Rahilly 1976:ll. 2728-31; trans. Kinsella 1969:118. 4. It has generally been argued that Celtic prose tales had been highlighted with speech poems from the earliest times. McCone (1990:37-38) offers a critique of the traditional view; see M. Tymoczko 1994a for a discussion of some of the complexities of the entextualization of Celtic oral literature and the interpretation of the extant manuscript tradition, as well as for a discussion of problems associated with defining Celtic primary forms. Thomas Owen Clancy (1995) has argued that there are many examples of Irish narrative verse attested before the ballad (an international genre) became popular in Ireland, but few of the examples that he evinces possess the minimal defining characteristics of narrative, “the presence of a story and a story-teller” (Scholes and Kellogg [1966] 1968:4). The poems Clancy sees as narrative are either first-person utterances that are closer to lyric or dramatic monologue (within the narrow range of speech acts associated with firstperson Celtic verse) than to narrative, or forms of complex allusion (seemingly with a mnemonic or gnomic purpose, functioning as lore) that operate more on the principle of metonymic evocation than actual narration of a story by a storyteller (cf. Bauman and Briggs 1990; Plett 1991:135-64). Some medieval Christian poetry does ostensibly have a narrative thread, such as the poetry of Blathmac, an eighth-century Irish monk, who composed several surviving poems related to the life of Jesus; one is an Irish version of the Gospel of Thomas. But Blathmac is the exception that proves the rule, suggesting nonCeltic models, both Christian and classical, for such early Irish narrative poetry as exists. Apart from its use for versified lore, the association of poetry with specialized speech acts is so strong in Celtic literary tradition that even later (narrative) Irish ballads (such as those related to the Finn Cycle) tend to be in the first person, attributed to a persona participating in the action, often with an elegiac tone, rather than being in the third person with emphasis on the story per se. Examples can be found in Duanaire Fionn, ed. Mac Neill 1908; and

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Murphy 1933, 1953. See also the argument in Bullock-Davies 1973. 5. A discussion of this aspect of Celtic poetics is found in Parry [1955] 1962:47ff. 6. For a comprehensive view of the roles of the early Irish poet, the fili (pl. filid), see Carney 1967; Dillon and Chadwick 1967:chs. 1, 9; Flower 1947; Knott and Murphy 1966:1-93; F. Robinson 1912; Watkins 1963:213ff.; I. Williams 1944:ch. 1; and Williams and Ford 1992:21-49; as well as references cited. 7. The view that the extant Celtic materials were remnants of lost poetic originals was widely held and it persisted to the twentieth century. Following Macpherson, in Ireland in the nineteenth century Samuel Ferguson took a similar view of TBC, as we saw in the last chapter, believing that the extant prose versions of TBC were a “debased remnant” of a lost poetic epic (cf. Denman 1990:82, 147-48). W. K. Sullivan and Standish O’Grady were of the same opinion, as discussed above, and De Vere also maintained that “the earliest existing prose version obviously represents a metrical work earlier still, large fragments of which survive, cropping up in it like sea rocks that indicate the hills submerged” (1882:xx). 8. For a more extended discussion, see ch. 4 below. 9. For a modern scholarly assessment see Thomson 1952. 10. See Gourvil 1959:190, 388, and passim. 11. Chapter 2 has an account of the three recensions. 12. Prostaxis involves the combination of clauses into long strings of approximately coordinate sentences. Nida (1964:210) discusses approaches to translating to or from a language with prostactic prose. 13. My translation from the text in O’Rahilly 1976:ll. 4036-44. 14. My translation from the text in O’Rahilly 1976:ll. 2279-88. 15. The text is from O’Rahilly 1976:ll. 3794-3800 and 3805-11, but she prints the passage as continuous prose. I have provided the lineation to indicate parallel units, as well as the translation. 16. Binchy (1972), Carney (1971), Watkins (1963), Mac Cana (1986), and Williams and Ford (1992), as well as references cited, offer more detailed analyses of the roscada. 17. Lug is a many-skilled young sovereign god, who leads the Túatha Dé Danann to victory in The Second Battle of Mag Tuired. In some texts he is also the father of Cú Chulainn. 18. For a translation of another rosc into a slightly different English formal representation based on the modern English “stepped line”, see the example in ch. 2 above. 19. My translation from the text in O’Rahilly 1976:ll. 2114-34. O’Rahilly provides a very fragmentary translation of the rosc; another translation is to be found in Kinsella 1969:143. A great many readings are problematic and hence parts of this translation are highly conjectural. Melldarath, perhaps leg. melldeorath, ‘pleasant outlander’; nerethar, ?; sóerfudut, ?, perhaps leg. saerfidut. Several of the verb forms are impersonal passives (here translated occasionally with verbal nouns) that give an ambiguous mantic quality to the poem. Although some textual difficulties also cause metrical difficulties (esp. the

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20. 21. 22. 23.

24.

25.

26.

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lines which have a four-syllable verb form as the cadence), in general it is apparent that most of the lines have a cadence