Virginia Woolf In/On Translation

Virginia Woolf Miscellany. No. 54 (Fall 1999).

"I opened the box and thought 'this is what a garden in South America must look like."' So begins a letter from Virginia Woolf to the Argentinian writer, Victoria Ocampo1 , upon receiving a box of beautiful purple butterflies. She continues, Here we are grey and damp and very English; little boys sing carols on the lawn; carts are thumbing about the flooded meadows full of turnips; this is a small grey curving landscape-mine: out of the window. I still have a dream of your America. (VW /VO 11/22/34) In this letter, Woolf, piqued by the butterflies, begins "to fashion ... surroundings" (CR 25)-Victoria Ocampo's South America; at other times, she imagines remote places, stimulated by translations of Greek or Russian literature. This issue on "Virginia Woolf in/ on Translation" draws attention to Woolf's window....VIRGINIA WOOLF IN/ON TRANSLATION

This issue then takes us to Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East. Writers, critics and translators try to imagine Woolf in faraway England-as she did them-and make her their own. As Antonio Bivar who writes of Portugese translations of Woolf vividly states, "it's as if Virginia Woolf were a great Brazilian author." Each of the brief articles here might be introduced in the same way-as if Virginia Woolf were a Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish, French author.  Each author reports from a personal and cultural perspective what translations of Woolf mean. The translator, Manela Palacios realizes that "the same way that Mrs. Ramsay's presence is felt by her friends and family several years after her death, my mother's presence also came back to life through my struggle with the Galician language." Mary Ann Caws praises Helene Bokanowski's French translation of Woolf's short stories that "keep the clarity at the heart of things." Reuven Snir writes of the little known terrain of Woolf's translations into Arabic while Joyce Crick describes the wave of interest in Woolf in Germany beginning in the 1970's. Yael Feldman traces the reception of, and, sometimes, resistance to Woolf in Israel in relation to the reception of feminism and modernism. Resistance to Woolf's new methods of "subversive" narration or Modernism, and loyaly to "realism" and "Social Realism" is a pattern of response in other countries also. Masami Usui and Qu Shi-jing, however, go on to write of Woolf's reception in the East. Usui writes of the flourishing translations of Woolf in Japan including her influence on a Japanese comic book....

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