To Sonnetate or not to Sonnetate, that is the Question: "Os Sonetos de Shakespeare" by William Shakespeare and Vasco Graça Moura

Os Sonetos de Shakespeare (edição bilingue) - William Shakespeare

Published 2003.




NB: VGM = Vasco Graça Moura; "Os Sonetos de Shakespeare" = The Shakespeare Sonnets.


I’ve always wanted to read VGM’s take, not only because of the sonnets, but also because of VGM’s “translation”. What VGM did was not really a translation. Why? Read on.


Before I proceed with the review, it’s necessary to clarify that the system versification of English is different from the method used in Portuguese. In English, the prosodic unit is the foot, which contains a number of syllables; in the typical foot, there is only one stressed syllable. The most used by Shakespeare verse, the iambic pentameter, consists of five feet, each foot being one iamb - an unstressed syllable followed by a marked one. In the poetry of the Portuguese language, the verses are divided into syllables, some sharper, and other unstressed. Because in the iambic pentameter we have five feet of two syllables each, there is a rooted belief among translators and scholars of the English-speaking poems in pentameter verse should be translated into decasyllables, thus allowing a formal equivalence between the two systems. However, many translators have chosen the Alexandrine, on the grounds that the English is much more concise than the Portuguese and therefore to express all ideas contained in the original - that is, so there is semantic equivalence – we would need to use longer lines. From that point of view, the most important being: “In a poetic translation is formal correspondence or semantics? Must we choose one of the two or can both be achieved?


5 stars for the sonnets. 3 stars for the translation. 4 stars overall.


Read on, if you feel so inclined.