Equivalence, Paratext and Elephants’ Feet: The Translation of Humor in Die Harzreise
Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Comparative Literature Program
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In my thesis, I examine the treatment of humor in the English translations of Die Harzreise from Heinrich Heine’s Reisebilder. Six translations come into the discussion, including the first English translation (Charles Leland, 1855) and more recent translations (Ritchie Robertson, 1993 & Peter Wortsman, 2008) The issue of interpretation is central to Heine’s text; Heine aim his cruelest jokes at the philistine professors and intellectuals whom he believes interpret the world incorrectly. With the help of Erich Eckertz, I lay out the elements of Heine’s humor and look at which aspects the translators strive to maintain and which they leave out. Through examination of key jokes in the original and the translations, I show how translations create different versions of the text while still remaining “Heine”.