PaTRiCK LeNNoN TRaNSLaTioN

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Brian Friel’s Translations

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Translation is not an intrinsically political field, but like so many other things, from food to clothing, it can be. Translations, by the playwright Brian Friel, is a wonderful example of how politically and culturally charged translation can be. The play is set in the 1830s in an Irish-speaking area in County Donegal. Enter a detachment of Royal Engineers, who are making the first Ordnance Survey and have to translate the local Gaelic names into English. As the blurb rightly says, Friel “reveals the far-reaching personal and cultural effects of an action which is at first sight purely administrative”. First performed in 1980, the play was published by Faber and Faber in 1981 (paperback cover pictured below). For that matter, if you’re in Brussels and would like to see a play in English, then the English-Language Theatre in Brussels website has all the information you need about companies and performances.

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Written by Patrick Lennon

November 16, 2011 at 10:40 pm