THE WORLD’S MOST TRANSLATED POEM?: THE GLOBAL REACH OF EDGAR ALLAN POE’S ‘THE RAVEN’ STUDIED IN BRAZIL

It may come as no surprise to students of Edgar Allan Poe to learn that a book-length study now exists on the translation worldwide of the Boston-born author’s most celebrated poem, ‘The Raven’, but a few eyebrows may be raised by the authors’ affirmations concerning the cultural importance worldwide of Poe’s declamatory gem, with its headcount of translations at 700 and rising.

The book, published in Brazil and downloadable at:

http://repositorio.unb.br/handle/10482/25199,

is a multilingual project combining an expository portion in Portuguese with international bibliographical information and translations in their original target languages. The authors suggest that ‘The Raven’ is in all probability ‘o texto poético mais traduzido do mundo’ [‘the most translated poem in the world’], and may even be ‘o poema mais seminalmente intermidiática da história’ [‘the most seminally intermediatic poem in history’] (p. 11). Details are:

Helciclever Barros da Silva Vitoriano, Sidelmar Alves da Silva Kunz and André Luis Gomes, Mapeamento mundial de traduções do poema ‘The Raven’ de Edgar Allan Poe: Um estudo preliminar (1853-2017) [‘A world map of translations of the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe: A preliminary study (1853-2017)’], Brasilia: Universidade da Brasilia, 2017, 516 pp.

A summary of the research behind this volume was offered as a paper at a conference in Brasilia in November 2017:

http://unb.revistaintercambio.net.br/sys/principal/lo18C.php?pag=;revistaintercambioA;paginas;index

http://unb.revistaintercambio.net.br/24h/pessoa/temp/anexo/1/11705/3177.pdf

The book offers a detailed bibliography of translations of ‘The Raven’, running to at least 45 languages, also including criticism on the translations where it exists. The languages most strongly represented include, as is to be expected, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Russian, but also present are Arabic and Chinese, as well as Corsican, Basque, Albanian, Vietnamese, Latin and many more. It concludes with the full texts of a goodly number of translations in the public domain in multiple languages.

This book will most certainly prove an invaluable reference for the future study of the inexhaustible subject of translating Edgar Allan Poe. I also note that it frequently and favourably mentions the 2014 multi-author study Translated Poe, edited by Emron Esplin and Margarida Vale de Gato (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Lehigh University Press / Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield), to which I am pleased to be a contributor (see entry on this blog for 29 October 2014).

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