Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Translation and Ideology

Baudelaire's Translations and Modern Hebrew Poetry

Ziva Shamir (Tel-Aviv University)



In his influential book Validity in Interpretation, E. D. Hirsch argues that the critic should attempt at identifying the intrinsic genre of the works he analyses, in order to locate the work of art in its exact poetic context and to trace its sources of influence. In his famous book The Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom claims that the influenced author undergoes a process of misreading, discarding the elements that do not comply with his viewpoint and individual poetics. The poetry and critique of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), especially his debatable collection of poems Fleurs du Mal, was undoubtedly one of the major sources of influence of modern Hebrew poetry in the last 120 years. In fact, he influenced Hebrew poets almost two generations before the emergence of Hebrew Modernism in the 1920’s. The author and critic David Frishman was the first Hebrew poet to introduce Baudelaire to the Hebrew reading public. He did so in prosaic paraphrases of the French texts which he became acquainted with presumably through German translations of Baudelaire. Chaim Nachman Bialik was directly and indirectly influenced by Frishman, and wrote several Baudelairean poems which in their turn influenced his many admirers. The first to practice Baudelaire’s modernistic poetics (imbued with many paradoxes, oxymora, unnatural landscapes and immoral points of view) were Abraham Shlonsky and his followers, among them Nathan Alterman who translated some of Baudelaire’s poems and Lea Goldberg who wrote a research on his poetry. Baudelaire’s influence, however, is still evident in contemporary Hebrew poetry (Dori Manor and his group are devout followers of the French decadent poem who expounded unconventional ideas and literary norms some 150 years ago. Every generation reflects Baudelaire differently, thus proving the validity of Bloom’s theory of misreading in his exemplary book The Anxiety of Influence.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-17