On slipping beauty and gender identity in poetry translation:

Notes on James Sutherland-Smith’s translations of the poetry of Mila Haugová


  • Ivana Hostová Institute of Slovak Literature, Slovak Academy of Sciences


Poetry in translation., Translation slips., Remainder in translation., Gender identity., Minor into major translation.


The past few decades have seen a surge in research into translating minor literatures into the hegemonic English. Several contributions on translating Slovak literature have also been published or presented at conferences.[1] Few of these, however, have endeavoured close readings. Loosely inspired by the applications of psychoanalysis in translation studies, this article looks at James Sutherland-Smith’s translation of the poetry of Mila Haugová – one of the leading Slovak poets. Since her writing deals with female identities, the translation conducted by a male translator also provides fruitful ground for the investigation into the question of whether the gender of the author and translator has bearing on the target text. As it turns out, in this case, it does.


[1] These include Adamová (2011, 2012), Pánisová (2014, 2015, 2019), Hostová (2015). In November 2019, Julia Sherwood initiated a conference on Slovak literature and its translation into English. The conference Raising the Velvet Curtain: Slovak literature since 1989 was organised by UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and held in London.