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Title: Translating Brecht : versions of "Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder" for the British stage
Authors: Williams, Katherine J.
Supervisors: Chambers, Helen
Keywords: Translation studies
Translating drama
Bertolt Brecht
Lee Hall
David Hare
Hanif Kureishi
Robert David MacDonald
John Willett
Issue Date: 30-Nov-2009
Abstract: This study analyses five British translations of Bertolt Brecht's 'Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder'. Two of these translations were written by speakers of German, and three by well-known British playwrights with no knowledge of the source text language. Four have been produced in mainstream British theatres in the past twenty-five years. The study applies translation studies methodology to a textual analysis which focuses on the translation of techniques of linguistic "Verfremdung", as well as linguistic expression of the comedy and of the political dimension in the work. It thus closes the gap in current Brecht research in examining the importance of his idiosyncratic use of language to the translation and reception of his work in the UK. The study assesses the ways in which the translator and director are influenced by Brecht's legacy in the UK and in turn, what image of Brecht they mediate through the production on stage. To this end, the study throws light on the formation of Brecht's problematic reputation in the UK, and it also highlights the social and political circumstances in early twentieth century Germany which prompted Brecht to develop his theory of an epic theatre. The focus on a linguistic examination allows the translator's contribution to the production process to be isolated. Together with an investigation of the reception of each performance text, this in turn facilitates a more accurate assessment of the translator and director's respective influence in the process of transforming a foreign-language text onto a local stage. The analysis also sheds light on the different approaches taken by speakers of German, and playwrights creating an English version from a literal translation. It pinpoints losses in translation and adaptation, and suggests how future versions may avoid these.
Type: Thesis
Publisher: University of St Andrews
Appears in Collections:German Theses
Modern Languages Theses

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