Leesseminarie rond WOORD

Woensdag 4 maart 2009

Bibliotheek Het Pand
Onderbergen 1
9000 Gent

o.l.v. Patrick Primavesi

voertaal Engels


  • Benjamin, Walter. "The Task of the Translator.", Illuminations. Essays and Reflections. New York: Schocken Books, [1921] 1989, 69-82. (pdf)
  • Primavesi, Patrick. "The Performance of Translation. Benjamin and Brecht on the Loss of Smaal Details." The Drama Review 43(1999)4, 53-59. (pdf)

The question of translation, as reflected from different viewpoints by Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht, offers a methodological framework concerning the relation between text, performance, and gesture. Beginning with a short commentary on the well-known essay "The Task of the Translator" ([1921] 1989), this research seminar points to some principles of translation and "translatability" which Benjamin opened up by his particular style of writing. Benjamin deconstructs the most common metaphors of translation theories such as "resemblance", "adequacy", and "faithfulness" to the original. Brecht developed a similar concept of translatability and of gestures as "theatrical thoughts", especially in connection with his Galileo, which he translated together with the actor Charles Laughton. In this context, the current idea of performance as a kind of translation finds its counterpart in the notion of translation as performance.

Patrick Primavesi is professor Theatre Studies at the University of Leipzig. His dissertation, Kommentar, Übersetzung, Theater in Walter Benjamins frühen Schriften (Commentary, Translation, Theatre in Walter Benjamin's Early Writings), was published in 1998 (Stroemfeld Verlag). His further research projects and articles focus on contemporary theatre, early 19th-century drama, and the relationship between theatre and film, in particular the works of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub.