PASSIVE (RE)TRANSLATIONS AND IDENTITY STRUGGLES IN THE POETRY OF LEONARD COHEN. A COMPARISON OF THREE TRANSLATIONS OF BOOK OF LONGING (2006)
Abstract Over the course of less than a decade, Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing (2006), was translated into French three different times. The poetry collection of Cohen was first translated in Québec (Livre du constant désir, 2007) and then in France (Le livre du désir, 2008). In addition, seven poems published in Book of Longing previously appeared as songs on the studio album Ten New Songs (2001). The French release of this album was accompanied by a promotional booklet, in which French translations (made by Graeme Allwright) are printed. In this article, the question is raised whether these texts can be labeled as ‘retranslations’ or not. The three translations will first be compared in order to determine to what extent several power mechanisms have influenced the production of these translations, namely the dynamics between centre and periphery (Paris and Québec) and between highbrow-lowbrow cultural products (literature and music). These external factors will then be compared to a number of internal factors, i.e. a specific interpretation of Cohen’s poetry that may have influenced the adopted translation strategies of the three texts under consideration.