‘I made a decision that I will not add a single line to Shakespeare’

Piotr Kamiński, journalist, music critic, and a renowned translator of the most important works by William Shakespeare gives Poland In an insight to the challenging task of translating the virtuoso’s words into the Polish language.

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Mr Kamiński said that translation of his first Shakespeare’s work came to him as an accident rather than a deliberate plan, as none of the existing translations of "King Richard the Second" satisfied him. Therefore, forced by his friend, Polish actor and director Andrzej Seweryn, he started to do his own translation. “It was an accident,” Mr Kamiński said, “if Andrzej had not pushed me, I would never have tried it.”

Mr Kamiński emphasised that the key to his translation of Shakespeare is focusing on the rhythm, without adding any lines, so the piece does not lose its fluidity. “I try to translate a work as a sonnet, he said. “A sonnet has 14 lines and you cannot give any more than that.”

Mr Kamiński also indicated that in order to cope with differences between the English and Polish languages, he prefers a “thought-by-thought rather than a word-by-word” translation.

Asked how long it takes to translate a full length work of Shakespeare’s, Mr Kamiński said that currently he needs a full year.

“It used to go a little faster,” he said, “maybe because I was younger and maybe because I was less conscious of the difficulties of the matter. Now I am less courageous, less insolent about it.”

Click here to watch the full interview.