Translation and genre : the mode of Translation in Shakespeare’s dramatic works

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


In “The Task of the Translator,” Walter Benjamin wrote, “Translation is a mode.” How can we understand this mode of translation if it is fused with the issue of genre? This paper argues that genre represents a space (in Shakespeare’s work) in which translation is conceptualized in specific ways, suggesting that translation can be understood through the concept of genre. It focuses on the use of translation in the works of Shakespeare, who is well known for his uses of, for instance, Seneca in King Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King John and Macbeth. This paper discusses how the concept of translation is portrayed in Shakespeare’s dramatic works. For instance, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Quince says to Bottom, “Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee. Thou art translated” (3.1.105); and in Act 3 scene 2, Robin says, “I led them on in this distracted fear, / And left sweet Pyramus translated there” (3.2.31-32). In the play, the word is linked with the concept of transformation. However, when comparing with comedy, the word “translation” was used in a more sceptical manner in Hamlet, which can be seen, for instance, from his word to Ophelia, “Ay, truly, for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness. This was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once” (3.1.113-116). Examining how Shakespeare portrays the concept of translation in his comedy and tragedy, this paper discusses if our understanding of the notion of translation could be enriched through the textual space of different genres.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018
EventA Space for Translation: Thresholds of Interpretation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong - The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 10 Dec 201812 Dec 2018


ConferenceA Space for Translation: Thresholds of Interpretation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
OtherThis conference on translation and space, organized by the Department of Translation at CUHK, follows on the success of our 2016 conference “Translation and Time: Exploring the Temporal Dimension of Cross-cultural Transfer.” For this conference we would like to concentrate on two aspects of the spatial dimension of translation, one real, the other metaphorical. For the real, we invite papers that consider translation and/in colonial spaces or translation and migrant spaces. For the metaphorical, we are interested in translation theorized as liminal activity. The aims of this conference, then, are twofold. First, to reflect upon the way in which considerations of space, especially liminal ones such as the threshold, may provide new insights and research directions for translation and interpreting studies. Second, to reflect upon the ways in which spatial constraints impinge upon or shape the translation process, and how translation may work to re-shape cultural spaces.

Department of Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Translation and genre : the mode of Translation in Shakespeare’s dramatic works'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this