Visual narrative in translating the literary text of romantic prose

Linguistic representation of visual perception through verbal and visual means of images. Artistic images in romantic literature, created by the interaction of visual and verbal translation codes. Overview of the forms of romantic literary vision.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид статья
Язык английский
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Visual narrative in translating the literary text of romantic prose

Introduction. Ekphrasis or ekphrastic narration is generally defined as a literary description of or a commentary on a visual work of art. In recent decades, the use of the term has been limited, first, to visual description and then even more specifically to the description of a real or imagined work of visual art. In terms of modern concept the two different ekphrases are to be distinguished: the incomplete ekphrasis, meaning the same as the visual imagination or visualization through imagery, and animating objects of material culture through visualizing, which definitely involves inscribed material culture, that is the verbal representation of visual representation. Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device or a technique used to convey a meaning with a goal of persuading a reader (listener) from a different perspective, to provoke a rational argument from an emotional display of a given perspective or action.

A dramatic means of textual rhetoric, ekphrasis appears to really be the one in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness. For centuries, since ancient authors, it had been a constant tendency of many descriptive genres to promote the withdrawal of visual barriers and to convey by word the beauty of the fine architectural, pictorial and sculptural objects to those who were supposed to clearly imagine them. Describing objects of art had thus become an element of poetic integrity, and hereto its nature needs to be properly revealed and interpreted. The descriptive discourse proved much to be structurally important and to cater for the demands of contemporary critics.

A descriptive work of prose (or poetry) may thus highlight through its rhetorical vividness what is shown in any of the visual arts, and in doing so, may enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its brilliant description. Virtually any type of artistic medium may be the actor of (or a subject of) ekphrasis. If it is the spirit of the description that we are concerned about, it certainly can be conveyed by virtually any medium and thereby enhance the artistic impact of the original work through synergy as all that provides the creation of a whole that is greater than the mere sum of its parts.

Overview for the recent researches. General theoretical background for the ekphrastic studies comprises discourse analysis, intertextuality survey, literary interpretation and other issues regarding the problem of descriptive techniques in building the narrative. The subject being widely discussed, ekphrasis has become a centerpiece in numerous papers by A. Losev, G. Kosykov, A. Goldenberg, Yu. Lotman, N. Braginskaya, B. Uspensky, V. Khalyzev, J.- K. Lann, R. Barth, U. Eco, R. Welsh, W. Mitchell, J. Heffernan, P. Wagner, L. Sager, M. Krieger and others. Since the scope of the ekphrastic phenomena touches verbal means of literary visualizing, poetics of ekphrasis, the nature of visual images, filmic and scenic ekphrases etc., ekphrasis appears to act as a structural semantic text unit, it is a way of its organization and a means of creation of a single imagery space. It can also be defined as an art form influence by another art form through description, inclusion of inspiration. This concept acts as a strong philosophical notion that drives how the project can and should work to achieve a personal ekphrasis to the artwork from those who engage with it.

The purpose of the paper is to expose the main ideas of the ekphrastic theory through analyzing the texts of Romantic prose, especially those by E. A. Poe, «The Oval Portrait» being most prominent of them as well as quite instrumental in the sense of visual description perspective.

The basic presentation. Contemporary textual analysis appears to be most appropriate in considering text-formative phenomena like verbal representation of visual objects since it regards linguistic entities beyond the level of the sentence and, rather, on the text level. Quite essential also proves to be the notion of text analysis once proposed by M. Foucault (1972) who conceived texts as special formative structures and textual analytic practices as social phenomena. Translation studies have not been less indeterminate in this respect, and translation-oriented models of text and intertextuality have been taking shape along varied and diverse lines since the early 1980s. A text-analytic approach to discourse analysis covers the way texts are «put together» in terms of product, form, relationships, intersentential structure, organization and mapping [7, р. 88].

Being vividly promoted by U. Eco's «ironic play» (Eco, 1998) and L. Hutcheon's «metafiction texts» (Hutcheon, 1988), the problems of ekphrastic imagery lie within the frame of modern linguistic studies for intertextual interpretation facilities.

The scholars dealing with the subject matter concern various aspects of the visual art representations. One of them is regarded by Ryan Welsh, admitting «the modern problem of the word and the image is still at issue and ekphrasis is still central to making a way between the sides. The modern problem of ekphrasis is how best to limit and expand the term's meaning in order to continue to make inroads into the productive work that results from investigation into the word or image dialectic» [10].

Another perspective brings us to view ekphrasis as a special type of intertextuality, or a «conversation» between books, since «intertextual books reference other pieces of writing, and use those references to make meaning» [11]. Intertextuality is mostly regarded as a special feature of imaginative literature (Bassnett, 1996). The term implies that the reader as well as a translator translates or decodes the text in a process of personal semiosis: the text is nothing but a set of graphic symbols until it is filled in with sense and imagery by its reader-author since while translating we interprete only what we reconstruct about the text, or its potential semiotic function in the target culture [2, p. 12]. However, the translator's semiosis is bound by the necessity of reconstructing the source system of imagery as a whole which means that the resulting intersemiotic complex must be a piece of literary art according to the criteria of the target language, literature and reader [2, p. 13].

Providing current analysis through notions and terms of intertextuality enables us to perceive the problem in the light of J. Krysteva's original theory (Krysteva, 1967), followed by U. Eco's «intertextual dialogue», and therefore, by Y. Lotman's intersemiotic provisions, concerning the semiotic universum of culture. Since a text contains not only the impressions of the texts belonging to the same semiotic sphere, but of other texts as well, and of other products of culture including painting, sculpture, architecture and artistic representations in general, intertextuality ought to be assumed as an aspect of intersemiotics in the meaning of a text category (Selivanova, 2002) [9, p. 516]. U. Eco wrote: «Regarding the way verbal text is capable of visualizing, the problem of ekphrasis can't be avoided: the latter being interpreted as a decription of a work of art whatever a sculpture or a canvas. The point is, we are rather concerned about the opposite type of the intersemiotic translation, when the written text is transformed into the visual one (as in «a book - a film», or «a book - a comic strip»). On the contrary, as the case of ekphrasis may be, the visual text is transformed into the verbal» [1, p. 249].

The term «texteme», or textual prototype, introduced to distinguish between text as an invariant, and text as a speech unit, does not appear to be the most complete as another definition has been so far provided by W. Koch regarding it as a text division unit defined by a common theme and therefore considered as a topic or super-phrasal entity [9, р. 494].

Modern intertextual studies seem to be involved into subtle play of visual and verbal contexts, those of writing and filming the painting, touched by L. Sager: «Descriptions of ekphrasis have been anchored traditionally in a particular modality: verbal discourses that directly verbalize one or more visual images, often discussed in terms of a power struggle between author and painter» [8, р. 9]. She also brings sharp emphasis to the media of discourse, or rather, intermediary discourse through which the ekphrastic (pictorial) imagery is to be viewed and perceived: «Just like literary ekphrasis, its filmic counterpart also relates to the formal, stylistic aspects of the re-representation of the art work through cinematographic devices. In other words, filmic ekphrasis reenacts in the cinematographic medium itself the antagonism between word and image that is central to the tradition of ekphrasis» [8, р. 23].

Some other viewpoints bring poetical meanings of ekphrasis together, speaking of the special iconic sense of verbalized descriptions (Heffernan, 1993; Wagner, 1996). The semiotic essence of ekphrasis is as well pointed at in the works by M. Krieger and J. Krieger (1992, 1998) containing «Krieger's ekphrastic principle» pertaining 3 limits meaning there are 3 things permanently limited: imitation of plastic arts by words; language as a substitute natural sign; words as verbal equivalent of a plastic art object [4]. Contrastive analysis is predominately applied to another ekphrastic issue: comparing the use of pictorial techniques in E. Poe's and O. Wilde's imagery, by N. Reinhardt (2007) [6]. Most recent studies being devoted to poetic ekphrasis, the tradition of ekphrastic discourse is definitely maintained by J. Kolosov (2012) [3].

W. J. T. Mitchell's theory (Mitchell, 1994) provides the grounds for interpreting ekphrastic poetic “code» in terms of representational devices: «We speak of notional ekphrasis which describes an entirely imaginary and non-existing work of art, as though it were factual and existed in reality» [5], the latter being a result of 3 special «stages» for perceiving and conveying the ekphrastic entity: first, ekphrastic indifference (the impossibility of ekphrasis); second, ekphrastic hope (creating picture in mind); third, ekphrastic fear (the verbal and the visual representation might collapse and the described image suddenly becomes a natural fact which can be referred to, the picture would be aesthetically reduced in this moment).

Discursive analysis applied for peculiar genre modifications tackles upon distinction between discourse, genre and text, in which discourse is accorded supremacy and is seen as the institutional- attitudinal framework within which both, genre and text, become fully operational vehicles of ideological meaning (Hatim and Mason, 1997) [7, p. 89]. To deal with a special genre, the one of a mystery story, creative means of discourse analysis are applied to conceive pragmatic influence of the suspense imagery revealing principal «points» of the plot structure and bringing the visual «effects» of the specific Romantic narrative into view. The latter is purely distinguished in Poe's artistic manner of the narrative lay-out, revealing the prominent Romanticism traits: inner monologues, personal ambiguities, unexplained mysteries, struggling outlooks and protesting characters; yet, Poe's suspense inclination is also quite vivid, since his best writings are tales of suspense and mystery. The strange world depicted in many of Poe's writings was the product of his fertile mind and was never intended to reflect the real world.

Looking into the artistic imagery of E. A. Poe's «The Oval Portrait» (1842) and analyzing the usage of poetic ekphrastic means bring the emphasis on verbal depiction of the work of art and on the effect it had altogether produced. The story's pragmatics being evaluated through interpreting it for translation, the intricate sense of picturing the settings and describing the main subject of artistic interpretation, the portrait itself, can be seen as chief devices for actual text-formation. The «topical» textual theory being involved for the actual analysis, the story's narrative literary background seems to be fully subject to pragmatic reasoning in connection with special narration (or textual) topics, or textemes, created in the process of reading and evaluating.

Since super-phrasal entity is concerned as a mere paragraph, that is, an inclusive part of the text, it may as well exceed its formal boundaries and expand as far as the meaning of the text proper, or, as it has been represented in the plot. Discovering the texteme as a text formative unit it rather should be regarded as a complex syntactic whole thoroughly imbedded into the narrative. Such entity is characterized by the combination of semantically and grammatically connected utterances united in one common topic and assumed to be syntactically related. These connections are generally seen as repetitions, or recurrent elements of the narration, anaphoric units, specially stated tense and aspect verbal forms, repetitive word and sentence order, co-referential lines, various parallel structures.

Keeping analyzing it in the vein of the ekphrastic study, we assume the integrity of both verbal and visual means in working out the creative sample of the ekphrastic texteme. Having been long provided with translation by M. Engelhardt, E. Poe's story of the «The Oval Portrait» as well as its translation contains the elements mentioned which are to be fully displayed in the given analysis.

Repetitive elements are to be found in the exposing segment of the narrative, together with the instances of inversion, or specially broken word order, in both sentences presumed, and repeated conjunctions (and) in sentences with similar subject-predicate structures (I read, I gazed; the hours flew by, the deep night came), suggesting the parallelism of syntactic formation, though to some extent broken in the translated passage: Long, long I read, and devoutly, devotedly I gazed. Rapidly and gloriously the hours flew by, and the deep midnight came // Долго, долго читал я, и пристально, благоговейно рассматривал картины. Часы летели быстрой и чудной чредой. Наступила полночь. The instances are as well regular in further samples, aspired by the dynamics of the scene described (the action produced an effect, the rays fell, I saw) and provided with the descriptive means of the same topic (rays, candles, vivid light, deep shade), mostly contrasted in creating the lively image of the vision (I saw in vivid light a picture unnoticed before; had hitherto been thrown into deep shade): But the action produced an effect altogether unanticipated. The rays of the numerous candles ...now fell within a niche of the room which had hitherto been thrown into deep shade... I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood//Ho эта перестановка произвела совершенно неожиданное действие. Лучи многочисленных свечей упали в нишу, которая до тех пор была окутана густою тенью. Я увидел ярко освещенную картину, которой не заметил раньше. То был портрет молодой девушки в первом расцвете пробудившейся женственности.

The ekphrastic texteme proper, taken as a whole, actually expands as far as several paragraphs, still being singled out in one, describing the plot's central subject assumed, on the one hand, as a topic in common, and, on the other, as a real occurrence, chronologically valid: The portrait... was that of a young girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done in what is technically termed a vignette manner; much in the style of the favorite heads of Sully. [...] The frame was oval, richly gilded and filigreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself // .то был портрет молодой девушки; голова и плечи были выполнены, если употребить технический термин, в стиле виньетки, напоминавшем головки Салли (Томас Салли, американский художник-портретист - прим. авт.). Овальная вызолоченная рама была филигранной работы, в мавританском стиле. Живопись представляла верх совершенства.

The passage introducing the portrait's appearance is definitely connecting the elements of the textual entity provided to enhance the evolving yet comprise narration involved into the description of the work of art still very much resembling a person alive and containing the appropriate evidence of this resemblance: The arms, the bosom and even the ends of the radiant hair, melted imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the background of the whole. [...] Least of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person // Руки, грудь и даже концы золотистых прядей незаметно сливались с неопределенной, но глубокой тенью, составлявшею фон картины. Менее всего мог я допустить, чтобы моя фантазия, пробудившаяся от полудремоты, приняла это лицо за живое. The paradox effect of watching the picture (at first rapture and then alarm) appears to go as far as next paragraph suggesting the entity of the whole description: I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute life-likeliness of expression, which at first startling, finally confounded, subdued and appalled me // Я убедился, что очарование картины заключалось в совершенной жизненности выражения, которая в первую минуту поразила меня, а потом смутила, подавила и ужаснула.

Yet, it is duly followed by the fabulous story found just now, to explain the origin of the portrait and its author's true tale which could be merely taken for some fictional narrative and still is regarded as a textual passage obviously parallel to the previous one, mostly due to the effect of the co-referential elements, to assume, through the narrative at length, the features of the person represented in the portrait and, meanwhile, the personality of the skillful yet miserable master, thus providing both male and female references: She was a maiden of rarest beauty // Она была девушка редкой красоты; It was thus a terrible thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of his desire to portray even his young bride // Ужасным ударом было для новобрачной услышать, что художник желает запечатлеть на холсте свою молодую жену; yet she smiled on and still on // но она улыбалась и не хотела жаловаться; to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak // трудился над портретом той, которая так любила его - и все-таки теряла силы и чахла со дня на день; to regard the countenance of his wife // не глядел даже на лицо жены; the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him // краски, которые он набрасывал на полотно, сбегали с лица той, которая сидела подле него; turned suddenly to regard his beloved: she was dead! // быстро обернулся, чтобы взглянуть на свою возлюбленную: она была мертва! The final lines prove to be as dynamic and as well concise in the light of textual analysis providing the special vision concerning the complex syntactic whole and its related bounds both within and beyond the narrative.

Conclusions and perspectives. Being a clear, intense, self-contained argument or pictorial description of an object, especially of an artwork, ekphtrasis, in many ways, proved to be as well instrumental in revealing itself as an iconic sign.Tackling ekphrasis as a literary descriptive means of text- formative techniques and regarding such syntactic units as textemes expanding the limits of the paragraph, we also have provided these theories with appropriate examples of textual entities, with their specially arranged related elements and systematic relations, estimated through interpreting E. Poe's works of prose. The perspective of investigating the ekphrastic representations in literary texts lies within intertextual and intersemiotic surveys that involve the textual interpretations in the terms of textemes (topics or topical units) expanding the paragraph boundaries and evolving as far as the syntactic entity.

Список використаної літератури

translation literature image artistic

1. Eco U. Dire quasi la stessa cosa. Esperienze di traduzione / U. Eco. - Milano: Bompiani, 2003. - 574 p.

2. Kazakova T. Imagery in Translation / Т. А. Казакова. - СПб: Феникс, 2003. - 320 с.

3. Kolosov J. The Ekphrastic Poem: A Grounded Instance of Seeing / J. Kolosov. - 2012.

4. Krieger M. The Problem of Ekphrasis: Image and Words, Space and Time, and the Literary Work, in: Pictures into Words: Theoretical and Descriptive Approaches to Ekphrasis / M. Krieger. - Amsterdam, 1998.

5. Mitchell W. J. T. Picture Theory / W. Mitchell. - Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

6. Reinhardt N. The Use of Ekphrasis in Comparison of E. A. Poe's «The Oval Portrait» and O. Wilde's «The Picture of Dorian Gray» / N. Reinhardt. - Munich: Grin Publ., GMbH, 2007. - 21 p.

7. Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies/Ed. by M. Baker and G. Saldanha. - Abingdon : Routledge, 2009. - 662 p.

8. Sager L. M. Writing and Filming the Painting : Ekphrasis in Literature and the Film / L. M. Sager. - Rodopi, 2008. - 243 p.

9. Селіванова О. О. Сучасна лінгвістика: напрями та проблеми / О. О. Селіванова. Полтава : Довкілля, 2008. - 712 с.

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