Alison E. Martin (JGU, Mainz-Germersheim)


Alison E. Martin is Professor of British Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz/Germersheim. She is Co-PI on the DFG-/AHRC-funded project Spaces of Translation, European Magazine Culture 1945-1965 and has worked extensively on translation and Anglo-German cultural exchange from the Enlightenment to the 21st century. She is currently working on a book that examines the reception of Vita Sackville-West’s writing in the German-speaking countries from 1920 to 2020.

 «The Art of the Translator Will Be Given Its Place»: Language, Bilingualism and Identity in the Anglo-German Journal The Gate/Das Tor (1947-49)

In 1947, the first issue of the Anglo-German cultural magazine The Gate/Das Tor appeared simultaneously in Britain and Germany, by co-editors working in London and in the German town of Hoya, south-east of Bremen, in the British Occupied Zone. A journal that actively sought to be an “instrument of reconciliation for all Europe” predicated on the notion that the “world of the mind […] has never been the property of one nation alone”, as the Oxford classicist Gilbert Murray declared in the foreword to the magazine’s first issue, it brought together work by writers such as W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf from the anglophone sphere, and Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse and Rainer Maria Rilke from the German-speaking world. A magazine characteristically short-lived in this period, it nevertheless widened the cultural, geographical, and chronological horizons of modernism in numerous ways through its handling of translation and its use of bilingual presentation. If, as Spender argued in “The Intellectuals and the Future of Europe”, materials and ideas should circulate freely between the defeated and the victorious in post-war Europe, then The Gate/Das Tor in its bilingual presentation of poetry – Vita Sackville-West’s translation of Rilke, or the Welsh modernist Vernon Watkins’ translation of Goethe – was the very embodiment of such supranational exchange. In the juxtaposition of reflections on Eliot and Rilke and Virgil, the magazine added a new temporal dimension to discussions of literary modernism that suggested ways in which the Classical tradition might give orientation for the future.