The Collected Works of Langston Hughes - Vol. 16

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes - Vol. 16

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes - Vol. 16

The Collected Works of Langston Hughes - Vol. 16

Synopsis

Creative writers have often commented that the imaginative process enables them to find comfort, healing, and restoration from the wounds of life. The dark thread of pain and suffering courses like the "flow of human blood in human veins" through the works of Langston Hughes -- saturating his essays, librettos, newspaper articles, novels, plays, poems, and short stories But this darkness is ultimately transformed by catharsis. Hughes was not a translator by profession, and he was definitely aware that to translate can be to betray. Moreover, when this passionately shy North American author engaged the works of several of his internationally acclaimed colleagues, he saw translation not as an end in itself, but as a means to something larger than his own life and works.

Hughes was concerned about the similarity of his experiences with those of writers from other cultures. His perennial longing for submersion into the "Big Sea" of black life -- whether in the Americas, Europe, Asia, or Africa -- prompted him,to build bridges between himself and a national/international circle of writers. One of the most effective ways of doing so was to translate works by authors with whom he felt intimately connected and whose cultures illustrated essential correspondences with his own.

Bodas de sangre (1933), by the Spanish poet/playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, who was brutally assassinated in 1936, is the story of a bridegroom and lover who fight to the death over the bride-to-be. Part of Hughes's therapy for the emotional scars and wounds that festered in his life was to make accessible a vital work by this Spanish writer who had also experienced alienation and marginality.

The poems by NicolasGuillen that Hughes and Ben Frederic Carruthers translated as Cuba Libre (1948) reveal the mutual admiration and respect between Guillen and Hughes, but they also illustrate Hughes's affirmation of self, family, and communit

Excerpt

Creative writers have often commented that the imaginative process enables them to find comfort, healing, and restoration from the wounds inflicted by life in a fallen world. The darkness of pain and suffering courses like the “flow of human blood in human veins” through the works of Langston Hughes—saturating his essays, librettos, newspaper articles, novels, plays, poems, short stories, and, of course, translations— but that darkness is ultimately transformed by catharsis. Hughes was not a translator by profession, and he was definitely aware of the Latin proverb “traduttore est traditore” (to translate is to betray). However, when that passionately shy North American author engaged the works of his internationally acclaimed colleagues, he saw translation as a means to something larger than his own life and writing, not as an end in itself. For that reason, it is necessary to consider why Hughes was attracted to a process that was even more elusive and frustrating than creating literature in his own language. One consideration in addressing this question is the need for a writer to mediate between the source language, or the context from which he takes the original text, and the target language, or the milieu in which he tries to create a facsimile of the original text. This was crucial for Hughes, who had a passion for working toward freedom, equality, and justice for the oppressed peoples of the world, particularly those of color. His decision to translate significant works by Federico García Lorca of Spain, Nicolás Guillén of Cuba, and Jacques Roumain of Haiti was a function of his zeal for connecting with other writers to achieve those goals.

On the one hand, translation has developed quite naturally over the course of human history in response to the need for intercultural communication. According to Albrecht Neubert and Gregory M. Shreve, “the term language mediation, the collective name for translation and interpreting, underscores this crucial role.” On the other hand, authors and intellectuals have approached with trepidation the translation of works from other cultures for a number of reasons:

A source text is embedded in a complex linguistic, textual, and cultural context. Its meaning, communicative intent, and interpretive effect draw . . .

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