Peer Gynt in Czech translation: a peculiar reception in history

  • Martin Humpál UiT - HSL-fakultetet.


Peer Gynt does not have as high a status as a unique world drama in Czechia as it does in some other countries. This is due to a historical paradox: in 1948, when Hans Jacob Nilsen’s epoch-making staging marked the beginning of a wave of de-romanticized productions of the play, a Czech translation of Peer Gynt was published which cemented the sentimental-romantic interpretation of the drama for several decades. This translation/adaptation of Peer Gynt was extremely influential, because its language, stylistically speaking, was truly excellent. Unfortunately, the translation is, at the same time, quite inaccurate and, more importantly, severely abbreviated – the entire fourth act is missing. It was only in the 1990s that Czech theaters began to use a newer, complete and more reliable translation of Peer Gynt. Thus while many theaters elsewhere in the world have long discovered the darker, existential dimensions of the play, it is only very recently that Czech theaters have begun to notice such aspects. Even today, it is the sentimental-romantic perception of the drama that is ingrained in the minds of most Czech theatergoers.


Martin Humpál, UiT - HSL-fakultetet.

Martin Humpál is a Professor of Scandinavian Literature at Charles University in Prague. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He has written the books The Roots of Modernist Narrative: Knut Hamsun’s Novels Hunger, Mysteries, and Pan (Oslo: Solum Forlag, 1998) and Moderní skandinávské literatury 1870-2000 [Modern Scandinavian Literature 1870-2000, in Czech, together with H. Kadečková and V. Parente-Čapková] (Prague: Karolinum, 2006). Otherwise he has published articles in various journals including Edda, Norsk litterær årbok and Scandinavian Studies.


Hvordan referere
Humpál, Martin. 2015. «Peer Gynt in Czech Translation: A Peculiar Reception in History». Nordlit, nr. 34 (februar):437–443.