The First Hebrew Shakespeare Translations

Comparative Literature Luncheon Series
Feb 16, 2015
12:15 PM to 01:30 PM
102 Kern

Lily Kahn, University College London

This talk will examine the Judaizing translation techniques evident in the first Hebrew versions of complete Shakespeare plays. Six dramatic works (Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, King Lear, and Hamlet) were published in Hebrew in Eastern Europe between 1874 and 1901. These translations are significant not only because they were the earliest, but also because they were composed at a time when Hebrew was still almost solely a written medium prior to its large-scale revernacularization in Palestine. The paper will introduce the translations’ unusual sociolinguistic background and illustrate some of their major domesticating techniques, including the neutralization of Christian and classical references; the insertion of Jewish religious and cultural motifs into the target text; and the Hebraization or Aramaicization of Latin, French, and Italian linguistic elements.

Lily Kahn is Lecturer in Hebrew at University College London. Her main research area is Hebrew in Eastern Europe. She is also interested in Yiddish, comparative Semitics, Jewish languages, and global Shakespeare. Hers publications include The Verbal System in Late Enlightenment Hebrew (Brill, 2009), Colloquial Yiddish (Routledge, 2012), and A Grammar of the Eastern European Hasidic Hebrew Tale (Brill, 2015). She is currently working on a bilingual edition of the earliest Shakespeare plays translated into Hebrew.

This lecture is part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series.

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