Biblical motifs in the first Hebrew translation of “The Taming of the Shrew”
By Hebrew and Jewish Studies, on 14 November 2016
2 November 2016, Seminar Room, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London
This presentation investigates the earliest Hebrew rendition of a Shakespearean comedy, Judah Elkind’s מוסר סוררה Musar Sorera (The Taming of the Shrew), which was translated directly from the English and published in Berditchev in 1892. Elkind’s translation is the only comedy among a small group of pioneering Shakespeare renditions conducted in late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe by adherents of the Jewish Enlightenment movement as part of a strongly ideological initiative to establish a modern European-style literature in Hebrew and reflecting Jewish cultural values at a time when the language was still primarily a written medium on the cusp of its large-scale revernacularization in Palestine. The presentation examines the ways in which Elkind’s employment of a Judaizing translation technique drawing heavily on imagery from prominent biblical intertexts, particularly the Book of Ruth and the Song of Songs, affects the Petruccio and Katherine plotline in the target text. Elkind’s use of carefully selected biblical names for the main characters and his conscious insertion of biblical verses well known in Jewish tradition for their romantic connotations serve to transform Petruccio and Katherine into Peretz and Hoglah, the heroes of a distinctly Jewish love story. Hence, examination of Elkind’s work offers a unique and intriguing perspective on the translation of Shakespearean comedy.