Shakespeare in the Netherlands: a study of Dutch translations and Dutch performances of William Shakespeare's plays

by Leek, Robert H.

Abstract (Summary)
Introduction Subject matter. The content of the following pages is the result of a research project originally concerned solely with Dutch translations of Shakespeare’s plays; but even in its preliminary stages – the collecting of copies and data – it became evident that the field was far too wide to be done justice in one single short-term study. Between the middle of the seventeenth century and the present day more than fifty Dutch authors have busied themselves with the translation or adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays. It might have been feasible to subject the work of one of these to detailed scrutiny, or to devote a less thorough, but still fairly comprehensive analysis to half a dozen of them. But such a study would have taken shape in a vacuum: since, to date, little academic research on this topic has been undertaken by Dutch scholars and, to my knowledge, none whatsoever in the English-speaking world, there would be no way of relating the findings on any one translator or any one limited set of translators to the merits of their many colleagues, to the cultural environment in which his or her work was conceived, and to the historical perspective of these efforts. Hence, the project developed, firstly, towards the establishment of such a historical and cultural perspective and, secondly, towards viewing the problem of translating Shakespeare into Dutch in general terms, and in a framework that would accommodate, in a cursory way, at least all those translators whose work has been – and in many cases still is – accessible to the Dutch public of this century, either in published versions or in performance on the stage.

The historical and cultural perspective. The first thirteen chapters, therefore, contain only a limited amount of material on translations. A few pages of Chapter I are devoted to an isolated seventeenth-century version of The Taming of the Shrew; Chapters III and IV are concerned, respectively, with a set of eighteenth-century prose translations and with the classicist French and German derivates of some Shakespearean plays that were translated into Dutch and performed in the Netherlands, in some cases, until less than a century ago; Chapters VII and VIII deal briefly with a dozen nineteenth-century translators whose work, but for that of one of them (L. A. J. Burgersdijk), is of historical interest only. Finally, Chapter XI introduces the efforts of twentieth-century translators, which come under closer scrutiny in the second part of the study. Had this work been submitted to a university in the Netherlands, a brief reference to texts by scholars such as Dr. R. Pennink, Prof. Dr. B. Hunningher and Prof. Dr. H. H. J. de Leeuwe would have rendered the writing of Chapters II and V, as well as some sections of Chapters VI, IX and XII superfluous. These chapters and sections deal with the earliest reactions to Shakespeare by the world of Dutch letters – between the early eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries - , with the Dutch theatre of the past two centuries and with those who were concerned with, and involved in it as writers, critics and directors. However, this material is only accessible to Dutch readers, and must be assumed to be totally unfamiliar to their English counterparts and, for that reason, had to be summarised and incorporated in this study, even though my limited research period in the Netherlands – a little short of twelve months – left no scope for independent work on my part in these specialized fields. The same applies to the content of Chapter I: the movements of strolling players from England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, and their effect on the dramaturgy and theatre history of The Netherlands and Germany.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Assoc. Prof. Dr F.C. de Vries; Prof. Dr J. Swart

School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:fields of research 420000 language and culture 420200 literature studies 420214 other european


Date of Publication:01/01/1972

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