Presita el Usona Esperantisto № 2023:5–6 (sep-dec)

New Esperanto translation of Shakespeare

Lasta ĝisdatigo: 2023-12-31

A recently published translation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus marks the twentieth Shakespeare play to appear in the international language Esperanto. The work of British literary scholar Marjorie Boulton and US educator and academic Humphrey Tonkin, the new translation was published in July 2023 by the Esperanto Association of Britain. The translation stays close to the original, says Tonkin, containing “all of the nobility and pathos, and the blood and guts” of the original.

Marjorie Boulton, well known in the Esperanto world as an accomplished poet, was working on the translation at the time of her death in 2017. When the incomplete manuscript was found among her papers, Tonkin went on to complete it, also adding an introduction and notes. This was his third Shakespeare translation: he published Henry V in 2003 and A Winter’s Tale in 2006.

Coriolanus, the story of an accomplished but arrogant Roman general unable to accommodate himself to the give-and-take of politics, “speaks to many of the issues that divide us today,” according to Tonkin. “It’s perhaps the most political of Shakespeare’s plays,” he suggests, “and one of the least compromising.”

Shakespeare has always had a particular place in translated Esperanto literature. The first major translation by the creator of Esperanto, Ludvik Zamenhof, was Hamlet, published in 1894, when the language was just seven years old. The translation, now in its ninth edition, helped stabilize and expand the new language and set a path for its literature. Other distinguished translations include Macbeth (1908), As You Like It (1910), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (two translations: 1921 and 1967), King Lear (two translations: 1924 and 1966), Othello (1966), The Tempest (two translations: 1904 and 1970), and Twelfth Night (1977). A bilingual edition of the complete Sonnets, translated by William Auld, appeared in 1981.

Koriolano is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, and from other booksellers.