Talking Books

Talking Books

Ethnopoetics, Translation, Text

Kenneth Mendoza

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Study of problems of translating oral literature, illustrated by Pawnee examples.
The increasing academic interest in the wide field of ethnopoetics has led to the publication of numerous anthologies and related texts. Professor Mendoza's study reveals strikingly the fundamental problem arising from the manifold difficulties of translating oral poetry into a written literature. He argues that a true appreciation of the "oldest, most universal of human articulations" must begin with an exploration of the general idea of poetry.
He succeeds in bridging the gap between analytical scholarship and practical poetic recreation of oral literature. Rather than rendering Pawnee rituals — serving here as an example of non-English oral poetry — in a way that makes them seem familiar, in effect 'domesticising' and thus falsifying them, Mendoza's new translations capture the unique spirit and flavour of oral performance poetry. In providing selected Pawnee rituals with synoptically arranged translations and a glossary, this book could become a basis and model for further studies in this ever-widening field.

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