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Baudelaire's Translations into Hebrew

עודכן: 21 בינו׳

Published: Trans. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften, 2006, Vol.16, p.9

Translated from Hebrew by Prof. Nitsa Ben-Ari

In his exemplary book Validity in Interpretation,(1) Eric Donald Hirsch Jr. argues that the critic should attempt identifying the intrinsic genre of the works he analyses, in order to locate the specific work of art and place it in its exact poetic context. Here, he elaborates on his early claim for "objective interpretation", suggesting that careful attention to genre, authorship, date of composition, external context, sources of influence etc., can greatly assist and increase the probability for the reader and critic to attain a solid interpretation.


Hirsch recommends that the critic should obtain a thorough knowledge of the conventions of each poetic genre of a generation, and compare them to the idiosyncratic aspects of the specific author. Needless to say, this is not an easy task, not even in English literature which is "only" a thousand years old. In the case of Hebrew literature, dating from antiquity to our days, it is an endless task, despite the fact that Modern Hebrew Literature is only 200 years old. Most prominent authors usually create a personal synthesis of modified conventions and specific characteristics. This personal synthesis makes the influencing text an integral part of a new, original work which (in its turn) influences other texts. When Abraham Shlonsky, one of the major Hebrew poets and translators was accused of being heavily influenced by Pushkin, he said that influence is like rain falling on an open field. Much depends on what is there in the field in the first place, before the rains began. Only cobblestones are not influenced (and even