University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term > Translating ‘In an Evil Hour You Were Valiant’ in the Song of Roland

Translating ‘In an Evil Hour You Were Valiant’ in the Song of Roland

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A translation of literature is an act of interpretation, and an interpretation of even a line is an invitation to the reader to meditate on the line and perhaps offer a different interpretation. Near the end of their lives, Roland and Oliver, the heroes of La Chanson de Roland, models of knightly valor, declare that each other’s valor brought on disaster. These declarations, one by Oliver and two by Roland, all three of which are phrased alike, sound inconsistent with the glorification of valor that characterizes the whole poem. Some translations of these phrases indicate the translators’ uneasiness with this tonal inconsistency and invite readers to meditate on whether the inconsistency weakens or enriches the poem. I will examine some of these translations and conclude by reading from my own translation to show how my work interprets the rift between what the heroes say and what their epic says.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term series.

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