The Undiscovered Country: Shakespeare in Philippine Literatures

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/

Abstract

Far from being a corpus of faithful renderings in local languages, Shakespearean translations in and into Philippine literatures participate in the afterlife of Shakespearean texts where Shakespeare is only one among many points of origin. Taking off from the late nineteenth century, the essay covers Shakespearean texts translated into some major Philippine languages—Tagalog, Kapampangan, Hiligaynon, and Bikolano—over the course of the twentieth century. The essay attempts to locate and describe some key qualities of Shakespearean translations in Philippine literatures, account for the shifting nature of authorship in these local practices of translation, and finally gestures towards probing the question of motivation—why was Shakespearean translation, an activity unsanctioned by colonial governments, pursued anyway? Read against the backdrop of colonial education and the cosmopolitan nature of Philippine translations of foreign texts, these local versions of Shakespeare display a variety of strategies of cultural accommodation that bespeak a striving towards a reconciliation of the original foreign source with the local culture and the biases and expectations of its readers and audiences. They represent a practice of translation that aspires to reconciliation rather than reproduction, laying bare a process of meaning making in a cross-cultural encounter that actively produces a Filipino Shakespeare rather than merely reproducing the English Shakespeare in a Philippine language.


Keywords

cultural production, Walter Benjamin, postcolonial, Romeo and Juliet, awit, colonial history, author, sawi na pag-ibig

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)