Capraroiu lectures on Romanian poetry

Gabriela Capraroiu, assistant professor of modern languages, lectures on “Restitutions of Modernism” in the Presidents Dining Room on Oct. 14. The presentation began at noon, and there was a question and answer session following the lecture. During the lecture, Capraroiu handed out examples of poetry in Spanish and French to show the different translations. Afterward, faculty members commented about Capraroiu’s topic regarding the translations of Romanian poetry. Attending the lecture were faculty members Al Clark, Jason Neidleman, David Werner, Ken Scambray, Marga Madhuri, Andre Ambrus, Sean Bernard, Bianca Hunter, Andrea Labinger, Ann Hills, Kenneth Marcus and ULV alumna Virginia Stark. / photo by Christina Worley
Gabriela Capraroiu, assistant professor of modern languages, lectures on “Restitutions of Modernism” in the Presidents Dining Room on Oct. 14. The presentation began at noon, and there was a question and answer session following the lecture. During the lecture, Capraroiu handed out examples of poetry in Spanish and French to show the different translations. Afterward, faculty members commented about Capraroiu’s topic regarding the translations of Romanian poetry. Attending the lecture were faculty members Al Clark, Jason Neidleman, David Werner, Ken Scambray, Marga Madhuri, Andre Ambrus, Sean Bernard, Bianca Hunter, Andrea Labinger, Ann Hills, Kenneth Marcus and ULV alumna Virginia Stark. / photo by Christina Worley

Gabriela Capraroiu, assistant professor of modern languages, lectured on “Restitution of Modernism: The Romanian Connection” Oct. 14 in the President’s Dining Room.

Capraroiu’s lecture drew from her dissertation where she researched the translation of Romanian poetry that Pablo Neruda and Rafael Alberti undertook after their travels to Romania between 1958 and 1968.

Included were the literary translations written by Omar Lara during his exile in Bucharest after the military coup in Chile from 1974 to 1981.

Neruda is one of the most significant poets of the 20th century in Latin America. In 1971, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Alberti is an important modernist Spanish poet, and Lara is one of the most important contemporary Chilean poets.

These translations were commissioned by the Romanian authorities during the socialist regime. Since Romanian is not a language of international visibility, said Capraroiu, the translations had to be done with the help of the French language. Neruda and Alberti could not read Romanian and had to rely on French for their translations. Unlike them, Lara translated directly from Romanian.

Capraroiu documented the translators’ first contact with the Romanian literature.The majority of translated Romanian poets belong to the modern period between WWI and WWII, although both Alberti and Lara translate Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889) as well.

Capraroiu said Eminescu was a prominent national figure whose poetry has been passed down through generations. Today, many Romanians consider Eminescu to be the national poet of Romania and an integral component of Romanian culture, similarly to the way in which William Shakespeare is representative of English literature.

Eminescu’s work has been translated into Portuguese, French, Spanish, English, Swedish, and German. Other significant Romanian poets include Tudor Arghezi, Lucian Blaga, and Benjamin Fundoianu—or Fondane, as he is known in French.

Capraroiu said that the ideological impulses behind these translations have brought some critic doubt with respect to the translation quality.

“Some critics, concerned only with the issue of faithfulness or correspondence to the original, have suggested that the translations are imperfect and that the political motivations exclude the aesthetic ones,” Capraroiu said.

David Flaten, professor of theater arts, referred to comical playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name, Molière, who was a French playwright and actor in the 1600s. “Poquelin said translations are like wives. Wives that are faithful, they are not beautiful; and if they are not beautiful they are faithful. It is better to be unfaithful than to be faithful without wanting to be,” Flaten said.

Capraroiu said that it is known that a translation cannot recover both form and content completely.

“Imperfect to a smaller or greater extent, translations remain an important way to open a dialogue between writers from all different literary traditions,” Capraroiu said.

Capraroiu is originally from Bucharest, Romania. She received a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish philology from the University of Bucharest and received a Ph.D. in Hispanic languages and literature at UCLA.

Capraroiu said she first started to embark on this project to research the relationship between Hispanic and Romanian modernism in a class on Spanish poetry taken during her doctorate program at UCLA.

She examined some of the Romanian translations of Federico Garcia Lorca. Lorca, a Spanish poet and dramatist, was also remembered for his work in painting and music in the early 1900s.

Jennifer Kitzmann can be reached at jennifer.kitzmann@laverne.edu.

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