Academic journal article Scandinavian Studies

"Jeg Vil.Leve Som Poet Og Som Oversaetter." Meir Goldschmidt as a Translator

Academic journal article Scandinavian Studies

"Jeg Vil.Leve Som Poet Og Som Oversaetter." Meir Goldschmidt as a Translator

Article excerpt

IN 1862, WHILE LIVING IN ENGLAND, the Danish writer Meir Goldschmidt (1819-87), the leading mid-century Scandinavian novelist and short-story writer, in a letter to his son wrote, referring to his possible return to Denmark, "Jeg vil ikke igjen vaere politisk Forfatter, men leve som Poet og som Oversaetter" (unpublished letter in Royal Library, Copenhagen, correction NBD, 2. rk., letter dated Dover, 24 Sept. 1862) [I don't want to be a political writer again, but to five as a belletristic writer and as a translator]. The importance which this outstanding author clearly attached to the business of literary translating has not been fully appreciated or evaluated. Goldschmidt was an accomplished linguist and his mastery of German, English, French, and Italian--gained during his travels and protracted foreign residences--is documented; his published translations and their place within the body of his work, however, have not been fully established and studied. While Goldschmidt's extensive English writings, both original and translated (with his cousin's wife, Hester Rothschild, a native speaker of English, acting as final editor) have been investigated,(1) the rest of his varied activity as a translator has been overlooked or ignored as insignificant, even though, as Goldschmidt makes clear in the above-mentioncd letter, at one time he considered this aspect of his career potentially as important as his own creative writing. During the 1860s, particularly, he was busily at work translating from English to Danish, and he later clearly helped Hester Rothschild in translating some of his work into French as well,(2) and there is evidence that he also translated stories by the German Jewish writer Leopold Kompert (1822-86) into Danish. For professional reasons, he usually refused to allow his name to be attached to his Danish translations of works of others, and this fact makes it difficult, if not impossible, to establish his complete output of translations, though he identifies some of them in his correspondence.

Goldschmidt's translations may be divided into the following categories: (1) his translations from French, which seem chronologically to have bracketed his other work in this area; (2) his own belletristic works translated from Danish to English; (3) a few of his own belletristic works, first written in English, translated into Danish; (4) his journalism (political articles, correspondence in British periodicals, biographical articles, etc.) first published in English, translated into Danish; (5) his translations of English non-belletristic articles by other writers into Danish; (6) his translations of English plays into Danish for staging in Scandinavia; and (7) his probable translations of the German Jewish author Leopold Kompert into Danish.

During much of his productive life, Goldschmidt devoted at least as much time and effort to his journalism as to his belletristic writing, and his translations of his own works, too, are divided between the two genres. His journalistic translations from English to Danish include the following:(3) (1) His article on the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull, in The Cornhill Magazine, 6 (1862), 514-27, which appeared in part in Danevirke 1862, no. 240; Flyveposten 1862, no. 237; and Randers Amtsavis 1862, no. 241. (2) His letter to the London Times (29 August 1862, 8), refuting the absurd charge that Judaism had once included human sacrifice, which was printed in Dagbladet 1862, no. 203. (3) His letter to the Jewish Chronicle (3 July 1863, 8), on The Polish Insurrection" and the Jews of London, which was published in Fedrelandet 1863, no. 177. (4) Part of his series entitled Social Aspects of the Danish War" published in The Atheneum during the summer of 1864, which was published in translation in Fadrelandet 1864, nos. 112 and 136.

Goldschmidt's translations of English non-belletristic works written by others include the following:

(1) John Caird (1820-98), Religion in Common Life: A Sermon Preached at Crathie Church, Oct. …

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