Translating the Theatre of the Spanish Golden Age: a story of chance and transformation

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Reviews: David Johnston is now widely recognized as the writer of the most innovative translations of Spanish Golden
Age comedias in the twenty- rst century. Kathleen Je s, in Comedia Performance
David Johnston, a master translator, is also a wonderful poet and storyteller. is book is full of insights into
building bridges between plays and audiences, and the sorts of transformations that take plays into their afterlife. e book rests on a profound knowledge of Spanish Golden Age theatre and its times as well as a real sense of how to frame and present these plays to audiences today.
Susan Paun de García, President of the American Association for Hispanic Classic eatre
David Johnston has been at the front line in the battle to establish the plays of the Spanish Golden Age on the
English-speaking stage. His work is a constant search for the sweet spot between the necessary challenges of historical accuracy, cultural otherness and contemporary vitality. He writes with true passion and precision. Laurence Boswell
ere is no one who understands the hazardous negotiation of translation better than David Johnston. Jonathan Munby

Translators have to know two languages to their very core. eatre translators have to be poets, infusing the tensions of the other language into their own, and they have to be playwrights, because only someone who understands the art of the actor will be able to write the sort of words that rise up from the page to become esh on the stage. And translators of Spanish Golden Age theatre have to understand the dreams and nightmares of the people then just as much as they do the dreams and nightmares of people today, because their translations are a conversation not just between two languages but between two di erent moments of human life. David Johnston has a feel for Spanish and English like that of a lover; he’s a poet and
a man of the theatre, but most importantly he’s also a contemporary of Lope, Tirso and Calderón. ere’s no other way of explaining the vivid translations he has written, like the wonderful Dog in the Manger which the Royal Shakespeare Company brought to the Teatro Español in Madrid, and which is still talked and written about as a key moment in the history of the theatre of my country. ere’s a mystery to translating, and the writing of this book on translation is important not just for anyone who’s interested in the Spanish Golden Age but for everyone who thinks of translation, at its best, as a celebration of Humanity.
Juan Mayorga
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOberon Books
Number of pages98
ISBN (Print)9781783190362
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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