Shakespeare’s Legal Wit: Evolution of the Translation of Shakespeare’s Legal Puns into Spanish from the 20th to the 21st Century
Keywords:Shakespeare, Translation, Legal puns, Malapropisms, Bowdlerization, Law-worthy, Stage-worthy
AbstractShakespeare was law-obsessed and used a considerable amount of law terminology in his plays and sonnets. Though the use of legal terminology was frequent and extended in Elizabethan drama, Shakespeare’s handling of such technical language was particularly accurate and imaginative. It being a highly litigious age, Tudor audiences were well acquainted with a wide assortment of legal terms and concepts, and therefore in a position to enjoy the clownish characters’ (Launcelot, Gobbo, Pompey, etc.) malapropisms and legal puns. However, what applies to the Tudor audience of those days does not necessarily apply to audiences from other cultures and across different ages of Shakespearean reception. In this study, we look at the question of whether the reception of Shakespeare in the Spanish-speaking world coincides with the established image of the Poet as a playwright and poet who knew how to handle the many subtleties of the legal terminology with ease and grace. Much of this image has been diluted as a consequence of ‘loose’ renderings in Spanish translations. With reference to legal imagery, malapropisms, or legal ‘puns’ in particular, many a translation fails to adequately render the corresponding legal overtones in the target text. After a brief overview of Shakespearean translations into Spanish over the centuries, this study focuses on the evolution of the translation of Shakespeare’s legal puns into Spanish through the works of three translators starting with Leandro Fernandez de Moratín’s early 20th century renderings, Manuel Ángel Conejero’s version in 1995, and finally Ángel Luis Pujante’s recent edition of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragicomedies. The paper concludes by problematizing such strategies in the context of “law-worthy” translations as opposed to “stage-worthy” ones.
Ackroyd, Peter (2001): London: The Biography. London: Vintage.
Alexandre, Mark André (2001): “Shakespeare’s Knowledge of the Law: a Journey through the History of the Argument.” The Oxfordian (4): 51-120.
Andrews, Mark Edwin (1965): The Law versus Equity in The Merchant of Venice. Boulder: UCP.
Astrana Marín, Luis (1929): Obras Completas de William Shakespeare. Madrid: Aguilar.
Bedford, Thomas (1872/2006): A True and Certain Relation of a Strange-birth, which was borne at Stone-house in Plimmouth, the 20th of October 1635. Plymouth: William Russell.
Campbell, Lord (1859): Shakespeare’s Legal Acquirements. New York: Appleton.
Clarkson, Paul S. and Clyde T. Warren (1942): The Law of Property in Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Drama. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
Conejero, Manuel Ángel, ed. (1980): “Translating the Translation”. En torno a Shakespeare, homenaje a T.J.B. Spencer. Valencia. Instituto Shakespeare: 249-272.
Conejero, Manuel Ángel (1995): Hamlet. Madrid: Cátedra.
David, Cushman K. (1883): The Law in Shakespeare. Washington, DC: Washington Law Book Co.
Delabatista, Dirk and Lieven D’Hulst, eds. (1993): European Shakespeares: Translating Shakespeare in the Romantic Age. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Devecmon, William C. (1899): IN RE Shakespeare’s “Legal Acquirements”: Notes by an Unbeliever Therein. New York: Shakespeare Press.
Dobson, Michael (2009): The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gregor, Keith 2003 (1993): “Shakespeare as a character on the Spanish stage: a metaphysic of Bardic presence.” Eds. Á.L. Pujante, and T. Hoenselaars. Four Hundred Years of Shakespeare in Europe. Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses. 43-53.
Greenwood, George (1908): The Shakespeare Problem Restated. London: John Lane.
Hoenselaars, Ton, ed. (2004): Shakespeare and the Language of Translation. Cornwall: Arden Shakespeare.
Kornstein, Daniel J. (1994): Kill All the Lawyers? Shakespeare’s Legal Appeal. Princeton: PUP.
Malone, Edmond, ed. (1790): The Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare. 2 vols. London: J. Rivington and others.
Menéndez y Pelayo (1881): Dramas de Guillermo Shakespeare. Barcelona: Biblioteca Artes y Letras.
Moratín, Leandro Fernández (1840): Obras dramáticas y Líricas. Madrid: Oficina del Establecimiento Central.
Mújica, Bárbara (2013): Shakespeare and the Spanish Comedia: Translation, Interpretation, Performance: Essays in Honor of Susan L. Fischer. Plymouth: Bucknell University Press.
Phillips, O. Hood (1972): Shakespeare and the Lawyers. London: Methuen.
Pujante, Ángel Luis (2012): Tragedias y Tragicomedias. Madrid: Espasa Calpe.
Pujante, Ángel Luis (2007): Shakespeare en España: textos, 1764-1916. Murcia: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Murcia.
Raffield, Paul (2014): “The Trials of Shakespeare: Courtroom Drama and Early Modern English Law.” Law and Humanities 8(1): 53-76.
Salmon, Vivian and Edmina Burness, eds. (1987): A Reader in the Language of Shakesperean Drama. John Benjamins: Amsterdam.
Shahan John M and Alexander Waugh, eds. (2013): Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Exposing an Industry in Denial. Florida: Lumina Press.
Shakespeare, William (1986): The Complete Works. ed. by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Sherbo, Arthur (2010): “Shakespeare’s Legal Language.” Notes and Queries, 57(1): 112-118.
Sokol, B. J. and Mary Sokol (2000): Shakespeare's Legal Language: A Dictionary. London and New Brunswick. New Jersey: The Athlone Press.
Sokol, B. J. and Mary Sokol (2003): Shakespeare, Law, and Marriage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tanselle, Thomas G. & Florence W. Dunbar (1987): “Legal language in Coriolanus” in V. Salmon and E. Burness, eds. A Reader in the Language of Shakesperean Drama. John Benjamins: Amsterdam, 255-262.
Valverde, Jose María (1967): William Shakespeare. Teatro Completo. Barcelona: Planeta.
Verdaguer, Isabel (1999): “Shakespeare translations in Spain”. Ilha do desterro: A Journal of English Language, Literatures in English, and Cultural Studies (Brazil) 36: 87-110.
Watt, Gary (2009): Equity Stirring: The Story of Justice Beyond Law. London: Bloomsbury.
Zaro, Juan Jesús (2007): Shakespeare y sus traductores. Bern: Peter Lang.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2015 José Manuel Rodríguez Herrera
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.