Módulos Shakespearianos

Titus Andronicus: Digital Editions and the Adventures of Translating.

Professor Giorgio Melchiori explaining the difficulties of the translation process used a metaphor I have been using since I first heard him lecture in Valencia 1, when he compared the translation of a play to the removal from one house to another. "What we speak of as translation from one language into another, is really the transfer from one form of translation to another; if communication as such is in fact translation, than translation from one language to another is translation squared. [...] The transfer, as in the removal from one house to another, all the furniture cannot be put in excatly the same places as it occupied in the old house, because the new house is never identical to the old. What matters is not to lose anything, or at least to lose as little as possible after all something always gets broken in a removal!"2 More and more people nowadays understand the process of translation as a translation squared phenomenon. Even if we lose something in the translation we always receive enough Shakespeare to handel him fully.

...firstly that the translation of a text is in reality the translation of a translation; secondly that translation is always possible, though at considerable risk.
When we come to the translation of a play we are faced with a further problem, the fact that a play, a dramatic text, is a pre- text.(p.20)3
As today performance is becoming more and more recognized as a more truthfully production of the "original" text the dramatic text as pre-text becomes readable and navigatable.The difficulty of translating a play lies in the fact that it is not simply a question of translating a text, that is to say transferring the content of a communication from one linguistic code to another as is the case with a short story, a novel or even a poem: it is the translating of a pre-text, a pre-communication, which becomes communication when a whole series of other conditions are fulfilled, when other systems of signs, gestures, visual and otherwise, come into play. (p.21) 4 ... The point of all this is that the translator of plays is a multiple translator, because he is not translating a text but the hypothesis of a text.

Neither translator nor editor can stage a Shakespeare play - this task must fall to a man of the theatre.(p.27)5A play destined for the theatre can never hope to have a final translation which will be valid for all time. The search for such a translation rests on a double fallacy. First of all it implies that Shakespeare's text is itself definitive, a work of poetry and of poetry alone, when in fact we know that it was written for the theatre. Shakespeare undeniably wrote great poetry, probably he was well aware that he was writing great poetry; but first of all he was writing for the stage. It may be possible to make a definitive translation of Venus and Adonis or of the Sonnets. But when it comes to the plays we must never lose sight of the fact that Shakespeare himself never considered his texts unalterable. For a man of the theatre a text was never definitive, it was a working copy.

In the second place a man of the theatre is aware that changes in theatrical techniques (...) mean that the language too must change. (p.29), 6 We are now met with the concept of identicality or also most times refered to as faithfulness of the translator. We want the translation to be as faithful as possible to the original. Toshiko Oyama already reminded us of:
"The difficulties of translating Shakespeare lie in the fact that we cannot render Shakespeare into our own language if we use mechanically similar forms of verse.Shakespearean blank verse is a very difficult matter in handling when we reproduce its effect in our own language."
And if that would not be enough she added:
"We are thus groping our way to find possibilities of contributing to the interpretation of Shakespeare in some points which the native speakers have overlooked."7


As a translator has to cope with every single detail of the text and is not allowed the priviledge of skipping over its cruxes or leaving them undecided, his work constitutes the most complete account of critical response. For this reason it may legitimately be expected that the translator's activities, though primarily directed at non-English audience, may also prove to be of interest to those devoted to the original Shakespeare, provided that the translators' insights are systematically channelled back into the mainstream of the critical discussion (and in the English language).8

The greatest problems of translating Shakespeare into Spanish, as has been shown or suggested, are not to be found in the momentous situations or he relevant speeches or fragments taken asa a unit, but in lesser details, in some recondite parts of a scene, absolute allusions and play of words. The strange words of the witches in Macbeth, for instance, are really difficult to translate; but the important passages in any play, as in the case of Portia's speech and Hamlet's soliloquy, have ordinarily been properly understood and correctly rendered. ... In spite of all tha stambling blocks that Shakespeare presents to be rendered into Spanish and the mist with which his thoughts and words can be surrounded by this versions into this language, the marvellous thing is that, however great the loss is, his work always preserves on the whole its original essence, its solid structure and no little of its primeval freshness.9

We are thus groping our way to find possibilities of contributing to the interpretation of Shakespeare in some points which the native speakers have overlooked. he difficulties of translating Shakspeare lie in the fact that we cannot render Shakespeare into our own language if we use mechanically similar forms of verse..Shakespearean blank verse is a very difficult matter in handling when we reproduce its effect in our own language.10

We should not long for a stabilized, yet genuine Shakespeare. Translation, understood in its wider meaning, which includes all kinds of critical interpretations, theatrical performances or foreign adaptations, is another word for reading, and will always be with us. It postulates a reader and not just a text. A disemboided reading of Shakespeare cannot exist. The very concept of faithfulness in trasnlation practically dissolves if one thinks of something objective that is to be universally accepted. Faithfulness in a translation can only mean that the reader or translator develops in his own system of communications one of the possible interpreteations of the text. [...] Shakespeare's plays cannot be solidified; they should not be annexed by any individual or community. New trasnlations and new readings will always appear, as long at least as Shakespeare remains meaningful. This is a fate that he shares with few creators of the past and it is the most neviable one: to be read in other cultural contexts, not to be so closely bound within the limits of one culture that translation becomes radically impossible.11

"As a basis for a pragmatic examination of the editor's problems (translator?) in dealing with stage directions in collateral texts, and as a basis too for discussion of some possible solutions, I have chosen the first scene of Titus Andronicus because it offers (pace Maxwell sic.) particular difficulties in understanding and visualizing the staging. It is of course, vital that the reader should understand what is going on. This is the expository scene, and if we fail to grasp who is who and what is what at this point we shall have problems throughout the play, and our reading of it will be impaired- or uncomplemented, because failure to grasp the opening situation is just the sort of thing that makes a student (or any other reader) give up in despair."(p.82) 12

[in a footnote he says: This chapter represents the thinking behind my edition of Titus Andronicus in the forthcoming Complete Oxford Shakespeare. I have benefited from correspondence with Eugene W.Waith13 about his edition of the play in the Oxford English texts series, and am grateful to him for his share in the dialogue.]

Since Stanley Welles wrote this text in 1984 many other editions have seen the market, as those we are going to use throughout our analysis and which are listed at the end of the present paper.

He then goes on to analyse the text starting at the very beginning:

" The opening direction in the Quarto reads: 'Enter the Tribunes and Senatours aloft: And then enter Saturninus and his followers at one dore, and Bassianus and his followers, with Drums and Trumpets.'The Folio varies this, adding an opening 'Flourish', the phrase 'at the other'-that is, the other door- after 'Bassianus and his followers', and changing 'with Drums and Trumpets' to 'Drum & Colours'". (p.82)14

Now let us look at what would happen to the translation into Spanish first; if we decide to follow the editors following the Q, our translation should read:

Q: Entran los Tribunos y Senadores arriba: Y luego entran Saturninus y sus seguidores por una puerta, y Bassianus y sus seguidores, con Tambores y Trompetas'.

If we follow the editors that support the F our translation will read:

F: Sonido de trompas. Entran los Tribunos y Senadores arriba; y luego entran [abajo] Saturninus y sus seguidores por una puerta, y Bassianus y sus seguidores por la otra, con tambor y colores.

Our advantage as translators is that we could translate either one or the other of the versions depending on what our editorial preferences are. Do we prefer to follow the Q or do we prefer to follow the F, or is it more convenient to have, at a click's distance, both texts to compare them ourselves and decide which of them is more apropriate, better to understand, easier to be staged or translatable.

A preliminary flourish does not seem out of place in a play which opens as formally as this, and though here, as on many occasions, Shakespeare apparently did not specify one in his foul papers, he may have omitted to do so only because it seemed unnecessary to specify anything so obviously appropriate.

Should we be following Maxwell's edition we would have to add a footnote in Spanish telling our readers that Entran does not mean what it seems to mean: This does not mean that we see them coming on, but that they are "discovered" by drawing back the curtains of the upper stage.' But as S.Wells already pointed out 'there seems to be no reason to deny the literal meaning of the original direction' (p.83) So we translate Entran and as we can not convince our traditional publishing house to brake the rule of "not more than 500 footnotes" we are stcuk and can not even mention what Maxwell's edition says about this important staging aspect.

Our scholarly edition is limited to our available space to the number of pages we are allowed to use. In our hypertext version there are no limits to what we want to annotate, how long the annotations can be, there is no limit to the number of sources we want to quote, no end to the authors we can make available to the reader so that his reading process as such is unlimited.
We are of course losing control over the direction the reader is going to take in his readings. We will not know if he is interested or not in what we thought is necessary to understand waht we have seen as a very important problem with a very difficult solution.

As translators of a Shakespearean text we can but need not tell the reader what the translation process has been, how we reached certain decisions, why we think this word fits better than the other. If we supply the reader with all the information we have held in our hands will that satisfy his curiosity. Will the abundance of options available through a hypertextualized version of the text make the text more easily understandable. Or are we just creating a grater difficulty for the reader, actor or stage director.
We always have dreamed with the perfect edition of Shakespeares plays that could be of interest to averybody to all readers in all language for all times. Would not a hypertext version of his Complete Works represent that edition that interlinks all existing editions, translations or even stage adaptations (film, movie or video included) old and new.
How can Marvin Spevack claim the Shakespearean text is fixed and finished, no more editions possible. He may be right if he means the printed text may have reached its limits and that qe can not go beyond minor and absolutely irrelevant enmendations that can only be of interest to the smallest group of very selected few sholars still interested in finding out the 'real text' Shakespeare wrote.

Albert Braunmuller's Voyager hypertext of MacbethBraunmuller, the MLA supervising NewVariorumShakespeare, Eric Rasmussen, one of the editors NewVariorum Hamlet, The New Variorum Hamlet Hypertext Prototype.
Peter Donaldson, director of MIT Shakespeare Electronic Archive with facsimiles of the early printed texts of Hamlet, several film versions, and >100 jpeg linked to lines of an electronic edition of the play.
Michael Best, Sholarly Editions of Shakespeare on the Internet"

Shakespeare editorial theory
A.W.Pollard, R.B. McKerrow, and W.W.Creg
I am aware of the position that hypertext has not, cannot, and, above all, should not make a difference to editorial methodology.Werstine
New Folger edition of Shakespeare, Barbara Mowat attempts to present within a single text the multiple early printed versions of such plays as Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Troilus, ...
Philip Brockbank, "The Mobile Text", 1992

Our edition neither conflates the early printed versions, nor limits its readers to a single early printed version. Instead, it includes those passages unique to the Folio and those unique to the Quarto within its text, but it employs different brackets to mark off all such passages, therby seperating one version from the other.
The reader can take her pick, at the level of the passage, from Quarto or Folio, or combine Quarto with Folio.

David Scott Kastan, a general editor of the Third Arden, tells Werstine that the Third Arden King Lear, edited byu R.A.Foakes, will use a somewhat analogous strategy:
"words and passages only in the Quarto are framed by superscript Q, and words and passages only in Folio are similarly frames with supersript F" as by private correspondece (by e-mail) Other Third Arden editions use different typographical conventions toward similar ends.
For example, Jonathan Bate's Titus Andronicus sets off in a different font the "fly scene" that is exlusive to the Folio.All of this editions, of course, still bound by the linear convention of print to the extent that they offer a single text.

I have argued that, as a consequence of the latest change in technology, this century'editorial theory with its final-form "foul-papers" and perfectly regularized "prompt-books" arrayed in defense of editors' assertions of their mastery over both texts and readers has given way to today's editors' attempts to position themselves as their readers' partners, not their masters.

The relationship among the text, the reader and the editor in [a hypertext] edition... will be very different from those obtaining (sic) in a printed text. Traditionally, the text is a single, fixed object; the editor is the master of the text, controlling every detail of its realization; the reader is the editor's client, seeing just those things the editor shows. In the electronic edition ... the text is fluid. ... The privilege of the editor, the exclusive access to materials ... of which the reader sees only what the editor chooses to reveal, is removed. Editor and reader are now partners in the quest for understanding: both have access to the same materials; both may use the same tools.

The "editorial practice" that many Shakespearean scholars have adopted represent many different approaches towards the task of editing Shakespeare and making his works accesible to a wider reading public. It is not so much can hyperperson become editor or can we continue democratizing the media as far as to let everyman become hyperperson or for that purpose hyper-editor. We have been hiding behind a concept of READER that maybe obsolete, out of date, old fashioned. Shouldn't we remember Shakespeare in his Context, as Muriel Bradbrook recomended in her Constellated Globe.(Muriel).

Now and here as global communication starts becoming more than reality, more than "editorial practice" or "editorial methodology", and the development of technology is so fast that so much effort and hours of brilliant scholars are lost and turn obsolete in minutes of navigation through endless lists of variant spellings, repetitious enmendations, unnecessary commentaries, confusing explanations, distorted and biased opininons, incomplete and out of date references, refried cross-references in a network of cross-referenced references to incorrect and incomplete bibliografical data.

The NEW Reader wants interactive, multimedia, publicly available but reliable high quality up to date scholarship, that facilitates access to the most complicated and complex editorial problems, which very few and only highly experienced scholars understand and deal with after lifelong dedication and research, as easy to read and visually attractive on-line editions which are for free.
The NEW Reader does not read very fluently, he does not like footnotes, he hates to look thinks up in a dictionary, he does not like libraries, (that's why he is on-line at home), he does not know how to program a video, he gets the alphabetical order wrong in the telephone-book.
The NEW Reader does not talk about books with others because he never socializes with others, he never answers to his e-mails, he is subscript to 20 listserver that drown his e-box with 50 plus messages every day, but he does not like to read e-mails for more than half an hour a day.
The NEW Reader becomes editor by copying and pasting fragments of texts that he likes, that he understands and wants others like him to share, he may include the reference of where he stole the text from, but as he forgot to copy it, he will never again find where he got it from.

The advent of hypertext has not altered the basic situation of text and commentary. Hypertext is a form of hypertrophy: an abnormal increase in size, an excrescence which is essentially additive and cumulative in nature. Having at one's disposal all the information that exists--old and new spelling editions, facsimiles, translations, commentaries, illustrations, stages, speakers, actors,
directors, professors, and who- or whatever--can lead to a traffic jam, with standstill. However navigable the highway, however fluid the apparent movement, the click of the mouse is more likely to signal lane-changing, with its illusion of rapid forward movement. Ageless and universal, the whole is a kind of digitized mega-variorum. Many of us who come to realize that we use only one or two percent of the expensive software we have bought will be reminded of Socrates, who, strolling through the market-place, was struck by all the things he didn't want or need. Spevack,

Many of us who come to realize that we can only use 98 or 99 percent of the free software we did not buy will be reminded of Socratres, who, strolling through the market-place, was struck by all the things he did want and also needed.
As a translator to have access to all the information that exists--old and new spelling editions, facsimiles, translations, commentaries, illustrations, stages, speakers, actors, directors, professors, and who- or whatever-- is a privilege and a revolution in editorial technology as we haven't seen it before. I still don't understand what the absurd metaphor "can lead to a traffic jam, with standstill" means in this context. The point has never been "to take a ride on the information highway". A digitized mega-variorum is the best translator's tool there has ever been before in human history. If you come down from the editorial highway cloud that sourrounds the semi-god editor of Shakespeare, and if you have to translate into a different language the more information the merrier.

None yet, meanwhile we will continue editing and translating Shakespeare's Complete Plays with those technologies that are being made available to us and that we will be sharing whith the most willing reading public, still interested in scholarship, quality text and well annotated and commented edtions in different forms, languages, formats and versions.

The University of Valencia
Universitat de València

Bibliography and notes:

  • Valencia, #b1 Encuentros Shakespeare,....
  • Stanley Wells, Re-Editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader, The Arden Shakespeare, 1995 Thomson Learning.
  • ibidem, p. 20
  • Giorgio Melchiori , "Translating Shakespeare: An Italian View", in Shakespeare Translation,Vol.5, Tokyo, 1978, p.20
  • Toshiko Oyama, "A translator's Dilemma", in Shakespare Translation, Vol. 4, 1977, p.104
  • Werner Habicht, "International Shakespeare Association Congress 1976 Seminar 'Shakespeare in Trasnlation': Chairman's report" Shakespeare Trasnlation, Vol. 3, 1976, p.xi.
  • Esteban Pujals, "On Translating Shakespeare into Spanish", Shakespeare Translation, Vol. 1, 1974, p.28.
  • Pierre Spriet, "Beyond the Limitations of Translation", Shakespeare Translation, Vol. 2, 1975, p.14.
  • Paul Werstine, "Hypertext as Editorial Horizon", in The Selected Proceedings of the ISA World Congress, Los Angeles, 1998, AUP, p. 248-257
  • William Shakespeare, Macbeth, ed. Albert Braunmuller (New York: Voyager, 1995)
  • The New Arden Shakespeare in CD-ROM form. Una Ullis-Fermor,, eds., The New Arden Shakespeare (London: Methuen, 1951-82). It is a shame that the new technology will offer such an outmoded series.
  • The New Folger Shakespeare, eds. P.Werstine & Barbara Mowat, New York: Washington Square Press, 1992.
  • Philip Brockbank, The Theory and Practice of Text-Editing: Essays in Honour of James Bouldon, eds. Marcus Walshand Ian Small (Cambridge: CUP, 1992, 90-106
  • G.P.Landow, "Redifining Critical Editions", in The Digital World: Text-based Computing in the Humanities, eds. George P.Landow and Paul Delany (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993), 284
  • Hardy M. Cook, SHAKSPER, Bowie State University, Bowie, the e-list for Shakespeare studies
  • Muriel Bradbrook, Shakespeare in his Context: the Constellated Globe, The Collected Papers of Muriel Bradbrook, Vol. IV, Barnes & Noble Books, Totowa, NJ,1989.
  • Marvin Spevack, "The End of Editing Shakespeare," Connotations 6.1 (1996/97): 78-85.
  • Roland Barthes, translated by Annette Lavers, Hill and Wang, New York, 1984 [Copy-edited and spell-checked by Scott Atkins, September 1995. Tagged in html, October 1995.]


    on-line editions of Titus Andronicus used in the translation:

    Quarto (1594)[Michael Best editions]

    Folio (1623), [University of Virginia]

    Folio (1623) [Michael Best editions]

    Renescance Edition, copy of the University of Adelaide mirror of the ERIS Project plain text edition. 1999 The University of Oregon.

    MIT edition, [Moby on-line edition, searchable. Ed. Jeremy Hilton. Based on The Stratford Town modern spelling edition of 1911.]

    James Farrow, Complete Moby(tm) Shakespeare

    Baudissin [& Tieck, Deutsche Übersetzung]

    Tito Andronico, [Shakespeare in Italian, transl. Goffredo Raponi]

    Traditional Book-Editions used:

    film versions of Titus Andronicus:

  • Titus Andronicus, horror movie, Joe Redner productions, dir. Christopher Dunne
  • Titus Andronicus video, 1997 by Lorn Richey productions
  • Titus Andronicus, dir. Julie Taymour, soundtrack, trailers and photos,
  • Titus Andronicus, dir. Julie Taymour, International Movie Database.
  • Titus Andronicus, produced by BBC TV/Time-Life, Directed by Jane Howell, Airdate April 27, 1985

    Other on-line editions of great interest for our analysis have been:

    Now available are Furness- texts that include

    the 1623 First Folio Hamlet
    the 1619 Quarto King Lear
    the 1623 First Folio King Lear
    Nahum Tate's The History of King Lear
    (1681) King Lear (edited by Alexander Pope, 1723)
    At the Horace Howard Furness Memorial [Shakespeare] Library of the Department of Special Collections at the University of Pennsylvania's Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

  • Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet (Terry A. Gray, Palomar College)
  • Shakespeare on the Internet: Sites of Interest (Michael Best, University of Victoria)
  • Shakespeare Illustrated (paintings of scenes from the plays; Harry Rusche, Emory University)


    on-line criticism on Titus Andronicus:

    in Connotations:

    Taylor's answer to the responses: Other very interesting articles all edited by Michael Best can be accessed from this page: Other interesting and related criticism on Titus Andronicus:
  • Understanding Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus and the EMEDD: Beginning of Titus Andronicus I.1. as an example how the EMEDD can be used.
  • Brian Arkins, Heavy Seneca: his Influence on Shakespeare's Tragedies


    © Dr.Vicente Forés, July 2000, Austin, Tx for UVPress

    © Dr.Vicente Forés, actualización 2 de Mayo 2007, Valencia, España para UVPRess

    Artículo de  Vicente Forés López , publicado el 04 May 2007 en © 2004 - 2009,

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