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Arguably, such a rewriting would constitute not so much a scholarly exercise as a creative one; and for this reason the translation to which these comments refer will not attempt to constitute a fluent, essentially domesticated translation ready for stage performance.

Indeed, the British theatre routinely commissions so-called literals which are then passed over to experienced playwrights who may not, and generally do not, read the language of the ST. How literal a literal should be is open to interpretation, however, and the term has never been defined in a satisfactory manner.

In practice, a literal can constitute any one of a host of different discursive practices.

Not only this, but there is evidence to suggest that the literal is a peculiarly British practice, largely created by the decline of language skills amongst theatre professionals. In any event, there is little evidence of the existence of the concept prior to ; and some theatre professionals tend to associate the term with the increase of interest in world theatre ushered in by the early repertoire of the National Theatre in the mids. Even the production of a close reading poses a number of questions.

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To begin with, the very act of 33 See Bassnett, p. Likewise, the psychological situation of the translator in this case, the present writer is ambiguous: stranded between a scholarly academic tradition which discourages authorial intervention in the texts of canonical authors and a theatre practice which seems to demand such interventions , but also stranded between a native non-prestige Argentinean culture and the hegemonistic demands of the English language.

A third, and far more practical, problem lies in the fact that class antagonism is at the very heart of the play. One hundred years of socialism in Britain during which time the leisured land-owning classes have virtually been abolished35 has largely erased the ferocious class hatred which underlies the play.

More generally, a contemporary British audience has no experience of a culture constituted by a small wealthy elite and a massive semi-destitute immigrant population.

A final issue with regard to stage translation in recent years has been the tendency of the British stage to largely disassociate itself from literary experimentalism in favour of performance practice in a non-text based context.

But Translation Theory also fails to offer any easy solutions. Arlts technique as a creative writer has some parallels with the concept of tradaption adopted by the English-speaking world. This term, a contraction of translation and adaptation, was used by the French Canadian theatre director Robert Lepage to convey the sense of annexing old texts to new cultural contexts.

Examining the function of the linguistic system in theatre in relation to the experience as a whole Bogatyrev suggests that: 35 Canadines work has been highly influential in this respect. Dramatic texts encompass certain features that are distinctive dialogue being the central one. Veltrusk, to name but one, mentions that, the relationship between the dialogue and the extralinguistic situation is intense and reciprocal.

The situation often provides the dialogue with its subject matter.

Moreover, whatever the subject matter may be, the situation variously interferes in the dialogue, affects the way it unfolds, brings about shifts or reversals, and sometimes interrupts it altogether. For example, theatre discourse, that must be the sign of a characters social situation is accompanied by the actors gestures, finished off by his costumes, the scenery, etc.

Assigning a particular weight or interpretation, for example, to the stage-lighting of a particular scene, is by no means easy.

In many respects, such matters are more or less defined by conventional practice as much as the requirements of a director; but whether one can even begin to place more than a subjective evaluation on the impact of the lighting on, say, the emotional register, let alone its ideological import, of a scene is highly debatable. Unfortunately, the conceptual naivety of such a schema perhaps because of its promise of absolute scientific accuracy has maintained a fascination for researchers to the present day even though it fails to ask the sort of questions that a theatre practitioner would be interested in.

Roberto Arlt

More to the point, since live theatre is about performance, and not about recapturing some past performance elsewhere however influential or important , the ideal translation envisaged by those associated with the Prague School might well prove not so much an ideal as a millstone even if it was a viable concept.

After all, what is interesting about translation, whether literary or performance-based, is that the target text does not have the same colouring and weight as the original. This system of achieving a perfect translation proposed by the Prague School likewise fails to take into consideration more practical issues. Meech sees the figure of the director and certainly not the translator, however perfect at the centre of a production. Indeed, he argues that the theatre poses perhaps a unique opportunity for researching how a theatre speaks to its audience; how it responds to and expresses the aspirations and concerns of that audience.

In this way, a play such as Hamlet or Julius Caesar needed little in the way of adaptation to present all-too-familiar images of tyranny for a politically aware East German audience. Upton, Manchester: St Jerome, , pp p. If the same play will be different when performed by the same actors, say at different venues, or even from one day to the next, we can only expect that it will be interpreted in different ways by different directors working in different cultures.

As a result, the notion of semiotic equivalence here is not only theoretically untenable but also practically unachievable.

Interpretative communities When looking at Arlts oeuvre in general and his theatrical work in particular, especially if we also bear in mind the fact that Arlt was mainly engaged within the Boedo group at Barlettas Teatro del Pueblo, we cannot but place the notion of interpretative communities at the centre of this analysis.

As Hale, and more recently Krebs with regard to Edwardian theatre translation, 41 argue: translation can be used, and frequently is used, to create new readings of texts which are at odds with not only the authors intended reading but also the readings of a works original source language, SL audience.

Looking closely at a particular interpretive community, or rather a translational community, Krebs draws attention to the collaborative interaction of a small group of theatre practitioners working for the West End stage in the early twentieth century and the manner in which that group defined translational practices and constructed a small canon of contemporary German plays within an English setting.

A similar situation could be observed in Argentina in the s and s. Severe sanctions were threatened for anyone who spread propaganda against the regime, yet lightweight political satire in the form of revistas [reviews] and sainetes [farces] using Uriburu, Alvear, and ex-President Yrigoyen as stock comic characters flourished during the dramatic season Castro Others were arrested or detained and shot without due process, creating an environment of uncertainty and fear.

While, in terms of explicit thematic offerings and direct censorship, Castro maintains that Uriburu impacted three seasons of theater in Buenos Aires 44 , the combination of direct censorship, violent repression, and self-censorship had repercussions on popular theater throughout the s—particularly because the police practices of torturing political dissidents, instituted under Uriburu, remained widespread throughout the Justo regime and beyond Kalmanowiecki Perhaps it is because, as Sarlo wrote: Barletta y el Teatro del Pueblo [ As a mediating interpretive regime, the Teatro del Pueblo functioned both onstage and backstage as a mixture of radical cooperativism and authoritarianism.

All scenery, lighting, cleaning and costuming was to be done by everybody. While the tendency to see art in the service of a greater political good is not particularly unique, as it manifested at the Teatro del Pueblo in s Buenos Aires, the case of El fabricante and, by extension, the case of its author merit special attention because of how Arlt has been narrated in Argentine national literary history as a leftist, working class, Boedo writer whose limited theatrical success was due to—alternately—upper-class snobbery or nationalist state and cultural forces coupled under the military dictatorship.

Its theatrical reality was mutilated precisely where the Teatro del Pueblo, as mediating interpretive regime, sought clarity: in transparent communication, in political propaganda, and in the didacticism of art. Newspaper critics at the time primarily concerned themselves with revealing the way the play copied its theme or plot from different European sources.

Both rooms, with two large, open windows, allow views of chimneys and rooftops of the city] Arlt, El fabricante Through relentless metafiction and Socratic dialogue, the audience realizes that the main character, Pedro, himself a dramatist, is seeing the ghosts of his own imagination materialize, which correspond to characters in both El fabricante de fantasmas and different works by Arlt.

Later on, the stage directions will specify the helpful addition of an invisible plane on which these characters will walk through the air so that the audience will realize they are metatheatrical ghosts Arlt, El fabricante ; Clearly, the special effects stipulated would have been inconceivable at the Teatro del Pueblo. While several scholarly studies have proposed that the multiple fluid realities are characteristic of an Arltian metatheater, based on the interplay of more than one level of reality Russi 65; Castagnino in Russi 65; Roster ; none of these readings addresses the question of the literal invisible planes on which the ghosts were to walk or of how such a thing was staged.

The dramatic present—the reality within the play—is unreal. In this way, El fabricante de fantasmas is the point where Arlt both gets closest to the epic theater of Bertolt Brecht in the use of certain techniques and farthest from it in his resolute anti-didacticism and anti-mensajismo.

Its message turns back on itself and remits to the process of writing as a self-referential immanence without a transcendent meaning.


There is thus no plot separate from the artistic process, no theater that can be distilled from the metatheatrical. There is no didacticism, but rather an anti-didacticism provoking an unlearning of referentiality.

This could be seen as a mad negative dialectics whereby the audience understands that its own analytic skills can only be used to contribute to the proliferation of further planes of unreality, and not to resolve or interpret them. As Pedro pontificates to his ghosts about the stupidity of theater audiences—the very scene that, as we have seen, has been read as satirizing popular theater, commercial theater—he then rushes to transcribe the sexually charged scene his ghosts enact before his eyes.

Furthermore, as Pedro writes onstage, rooms improbably materialize as needed, without having been specified in any stage directions, and Rube Goldberg-like coincidences unfold. As she fixes it, Pedro demands to know whether she is still stubbornly refusing him sex until he finds a job. He spies brusquely. He pushes the woman toward the void. She falls dragging the curtain] Pedro impulsively kills his wife. He is constituted by this action at the apex of Act One, but there is no effort to explain it or to reconcile it with his character.

The audience sees that as a result of the murder Pedro lives out the fiction he has been writing, thus substituting for his own character, the Substitute.

They only materialize as Pedro is acting with them. The meta-playwright, Pedro, thus seems to have a kind of paradoxical, latchkey autonomy within the main play, whereby what he writes in the meta-play comes true but he seems to will the necessary props into existence.

The Conscience with no conscience is thus another paradoxical, anti-didactic figure. Rather, he argues, he has a personified conscience divided from himself, which is less conscientious than he is. This throws Pedro into a crisis. Eventually, they drive him to reenact his crime, with himself in the position of his wife and he finally jumps into the void, killing himself.

El fabricante applies some of the tactics of didactic theater so zealously that it rather quickly arrives at their reductio ad absurdum: it reveals that without a hidden didactic mechanism, didactic theater not only cannot transmit a political message but cannot even sustain the illusion of a theatrical reality. Clearly, the desire to teach a unified truth—whether of the PCA or the tacit capitalist programmatic by which the audience is always right—does not easily coexist with recursion, chiasmus, and breaking the fourth wall.

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From double object to double consciousness, the transformation of minoritarian art into a vehicle by which a minority represents its truth favors a didacticism that must hide itself; its success is predicated on the invisible mechanism by which it asserts interpretation as truth. In this way, El fabricante de fantasmas lets the audience in on its skepticism about both representation and interpretation, giving up its right to assert even its own theatrical reality, and doing so in a commercial venue where not only its meaning but its very existence—the duration of its run—would be determined exclusively by its ability to sell tickets.

In this way, I see the gestus of El fabricante de fantasmas—its political intervention as a whole—as deconstructing the relationship of so-called popular independent theater to the people, to money, and to realism. As an anti-didactic avatar of Arlt, Pedro in his play within the play portrayed the real Judge who had freed him as a bureaucratic idiot; the Judge saw the play and chuckled in self-recognition, yet did not believe that Pedro was guilty of the crime he had confessed in the fiction.

While up until then Pedro had lived fearlessly with his crime, it was precisely when the Judge declared that his work was demonstrably unrealistic that Pedro broke down, and was driven to suicide by the torments of his own imagination. While other playwrights at Teatro del Pueblo interpolated avant-garde elements through code switching and allegory, for Arlt there was only his theatrical reality.

While he made compromises in order to adapt to the demands of Teatro del Pueblo in the wake of his commercial failure, his realidad teatral did not correspond affirmatively or negatively to contemporary political tropes and was therefore indecipherable as a message about them.

Yet, far from the exclusive province of European modernism and avant-gardes, this type of metatheater should be understood as also part of both a local and an international anarchist and Yiddish theater history in which the fourth wall was routinely broken in a context in which such interactivity was not primarily high-concept but rather a necessity in order to mediate the relationship between performers and primarily first-generation, often multi-lingual, theater audiences.

The arm with the sword now reached aloft, and about her figure blew the free winds. From this point of view, its critical and commercial failure, its very insolubility, leaves El fabricante de fantasmas paradoxically intact, ready to be taken up by anyone in any other time. In this sense, minoritarian literature goes still further into this contradiction: an accounting of and by the uncountable.

To take the minoritarian out of demographically complex Buenos Aires and New York of the early 20th century to connect it with present-day categories of literary history and identity requires a messy triage, particularly considering the continued resistance within Latin American Studies to adequately problematize categories of identity such that works in languages other than Spanish or Portuguese can be included.

See Foppa and Seibel ; ; All translations are mine. For example, the Thalia Theater on the Bowery in New York can illustrate the moving quality of the Yiddish theater as well as that theater run by other ethnic minorities: in , thousands of anarchists gathered at the Thalia to greet Emma Goldman upon her release from prison.

At the time, it was predominantly a Yiddish theater, yet previously it had been an Irish and then a German theater; later it was Italian vaudeville and finally Chinese vaudeville. See, e. Similarly, Russi reads the scene as a satire of an Argentine popular theater stressing criollo [creole] and folkloric elements and character types which had become stagnant and repetitive Russi See Verzero in Pellettieri, Teatro del Pueblo for a list of works performed during the s.

See Kalmanowiecki.

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Given the historical complexity of the multiple artistic and political relationships that cut across the simple trope of Boedo vs. All citations refer to this edition; all translations are mine. Works Cited Alba, Victor.

Politics and the Labor Movement in Latin America. Stanford: Stanford UP, La Ciudad Futura 3 : Arlt, Roberto. Obra Completa III.

Buenos Aires: Planeta, Buenos Aires: El Aleph, El Mundo. El fabricante de fantasmas.

Partido Comunista de los trabajadores de la Argentina. Teatro del Pueblo. Boedo y Florida. Benjamin, Walter.

Understanding Brecht. Anna Bostock. London: Verso, Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, Borge, Jason. Hispanic Review : Boris, Martin. Museum of Family History. Brecht, Bertolt. Pacarina del Sur. El teatro de Roberto Arlt. Buenos Aires: Nova, Castro, Daniel S. Latin American Theatre Review : Obra Completa. By Roberto Arlt.

Equipo Bertucci. Foppa, Tito Livio. Buenos Aires: Argentores, Golluscio de Montoya, Eva.

Latin American Theatre Review Fall : Peter Roster and Mario Rojas. Buenos Aires: Galerna, Guzzo, Cristina. Las anarquistas rioplatenses Phoenix: Orbis, Alpha 20 : Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Kafka, Franz. Amerika: The Missing Person. Mark Harman.

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New York: Schocken, The Diaries of Franz Kafka Joseph Kresh. Kalmanowiecki, Laura. Ludmer, Josefina.The history of almost any Yiddish theater in either city can testify to the frequent dispersals and coexistence with other groups and forms.

Within a narrative of Arlt as the prototypical leftist, working-class Argentine writer, it is tempting to see the events of as an exception within a relatively stable and productive collaboration at the heart of a tradition of independent theater that extends to the present day.

New York: Schocken, By Roberto Arlt. All translations are mine. The chambered nautilus poem extended metaphor essay 5 stars based on reviews. Its claim to attention thereby becomes more compelling.

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