Book review
Jan Willem Mathijssen. The Breach and the Observance. Theatre retranslation as a strategy of artistic differentiation, with special reference to retranslations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1777–2001)
Utrecht: s.l, 2007. 239 pp. ISBN 978-90-393-4550-4 (Freely downloadable as a PDF-file from).

Reviewed by Dirk Delabastita

Table of contents

It is a well-known paradox that reputedly ‘untranslatable’ texts often attract a host of translators and often, indeed, the most talented and ambitious ones. Shakespeare’s works fall into this category of texts and perhaps none more so than Hamlet. Even a relatively small language such as Dutch counts dozens of partial and complete versions of the play. It is this state of affairs which inspired the central research question underlying Jan Willem Mathijssen’s book: why is it that the play has been retranslated for the Dutch theatre so many times, indeed with increasing frequency, between 1777 (when the first Dutch Hamlet was performed in The Hague and Rotterdam) and 2001 (the last year that could be covered in the author’s corpus; it saw no fewer than six Hamlet versions and adaptations performed in Holland)?

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