Author(s)Starrs, D. Bruno
Keywords200500 LITERARY STUDIES
190400 PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING
Die Leiden des jungen Werthers
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AbstractAlthough numerous English literary translations of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "nobility in suicide" - themed, epistolary, psychological and therefore "untheatrical"(Atkins 1949) novel "Die Leiden des jungen Werthers" (1774) have been published none of the resultant English stage translations have ever been described as faithful to the original. The various obstacles to the creation of a faithful translation for the English language stage were analysed in the author's Master of Creative Arts thesis at the University of Melbourne, Australia. The first obstacle is caution by Christian playwrights regarding the proscribed theme of nobility in suicide. Related to this is the second obstacle: the fear of producing "imitative" suicides, which have been labelled "The Werther Effect" by sociologists (Phillips 1974). Other obstacles are form-related rather than theme-related and include the absence of an authoritative English literary translation and the difficulties in translating to the stage the psychological and epistolary novel. With reference to Goethe's three tiered moodel of translation (translated by Lefevere 1977) and cinema academic Geoffrey Wagner's "Three modes of adaptation" (Wagner 1975) the author has attempted to write a "prosaic", "transpositional" and unaugmented stage translation by identifying and addressing each of the obstacles, the hypothesis being that if these obstacles were systematically addressed and overcome, then an English language stageplay closely equivalent in meaning to the prominent ideas, themes and form of the novel that is, a work arguably faithful to the novell could be created. The research lead to the resultant creation "The Sorrows and Sufferings of Young Werther; a Stageplay" which was submitted as the creative work component (30%) of the author's thesis in September 2003 (receiving an overall grade of first class honours). This two act play was published in the April 2004 issue of "Ygdrasil: A Journal of the Poetic Arts" (online).