Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

Bálint Szele: The Limits of Literary Translation: Notes on a Hungarian Translation of a Chinese Poem Translated by Gyula Illyés


Hungarian literary translation has always been known for its supreme quality, and we might also add that it is peerless in terms of quantity, too, there are translations form probably all major languages of the world. This fact is not only due to the uniqueness of the Hungarian language in Europe, but also to political reasons: after WW2, many Hungarian artists were not allowed to publish their own pieces, however, they were allowed to translate. This paper investigates some translations of Gyula Illyés (1902-1983), one of the famous Hungarian literary translators, who ventured to translate an anthology of Chinese literature on the basis of a collection of French translations. Although his translations are generally good, there are many problems which stem from the cultural and linguistic differences between the two countries. There are other misunderstandings, too; the question to answer is whether it is possible to transfer poems between such distant cultures without significant loss.

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ISSN 1786-7967

Budapest Institute, 1139 Budapest Frangepán utca 50-56. Hungary