Making Hamlet German: forms of translation and recreation

  • Rebecca Hagen

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis examines the retranslation and recreation of Hamlet in Germany in the twentieth and the early twenty-first century by studying the interrelationship of translation studies, adaptation studies and reception studies. The thesis intends to trace emerging patterns in the (re-)translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet regarding metaphors and images that have become identifiably ‘Shakespearean’ in the German tradition. Four retranslations, all published within a period of eighty years, serve as the basis for this research. They include the recreation by Gerhart Hauptmann (1927), the interlingual transpositions by Erich Fried (1972) and Frank Günther (1988/1997) as well as the stage translation created by Angela Schanelec and Jürgen Gosch (2001).

The thesis adopts a comparative approach to the topic, juxtaposing the retranslations and recreations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Schlegel’s canonical translation of the Long Nineteenth Century. By comparing and contrasting succeeding translations to the Schlegelian translation as well as their direct predecessors, it can be assessed to what extent retranslators have engaged with previous solutions, thereby benefitting the creation of a translating tradition. It furthermore assesses to what extent images have been mediated to fit temporal as well as socio-cultural expectations. Beyond the linguistic examination of the translations, this thesis intends to contribute to a deeper understanding of the process of retranslation as a whole. Unlike previous studies, this thesis highlights the dependency of the retranslating process on other forms of recreation and hence explores the diverse forms the process may take. By shedding light on the different approaches taken by the four retranslators, or recreators, it appears possible to show that the term ‘retranslation’ may be better understood as an umbrella term for all processes seeking to update, recontextualise and engage with existing versions of a source text.
Date of Award30 Jul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorMichael James White (Supervisor)


  • Shakespeare
  • Schlegel
  • Translation
  • Retranslation
  • Recreation

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 24th June 2025

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