Translating Brecht : versions of "Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder" for the British stage

  • This study analyses five British translations of Bertolt Brecht's 'Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder'. Two of these translations were written by speakers of German, and three by well-known British playwrights with no knowledge of the source text language. Four have been produced in mainstream British theatres in the past twenty-five years. The study applies translation studies methodology to a textual analysis which focuses on the translation of techniques of linguistic "Verfremdung", as well as linguistic expression of the comedy and of the political dimension in the work. It thus closes the gap in current Brecht research in examining the importance of his idiosyncratic use of language to the translation and reception of his work in the UK. The study assesses the ways in which the translator and director are influenced by Brecht's legacy in the UK and in turn, what image of Brecht they mediate through the production on stage. To this end, the study throws light on the formation of Brecht's problematic reputation in the UK, and it also highlights the social and political circumstances in early twentieth century Germany which prompted Brecht to develop his theory of an epic theatre. The focus on a linguistic examination allows the translator's contribution to the production process to be isolated. Together with an investigation of the reception of each performance text, this in turn facilitates a more accurate assessment of the translator and director's respective influence in the process of transforming a foreign-language text onto a local stage. The analysis also sheds light on the different approaches taken by speakers of German, and playwrights creating an English version from a literal translation. It pinpoints losses in translation and adaptation, and suggests how future versions may avoid these.

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Author:Katherine J. Williams
Referee:Helen Chambers
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Completion:2009
Year of first Publication:2009
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Date of final exam:2008/06/30
Release Date:2013/11/19
Tag:Bertolt Brecht; David Hare; Hanif Kureishi; John Willett; Lee Hall; Robert David MacDonald; Translating drama; Translation studies
Page Number:224
Zugl.: Saint Andrews, Univ., Diss., 2008
This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 83 Deutsche und verwandte Literaturen / 830 Literaturen germanischer Sprachen; Deutsche Literatur
Sammlungen:Germanistik / GiNDok
Sammlung Musik, Theater, Film / Literatur zum Theater
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Keine Bearbeitung