Cross-cultural reader response to original and translated poetry: An empirical study in four languages

Anna Chesnokova, Sonia Zyngier, Vander Viana, Juliana Jandre, Anna Rumbesht, Fernanda Ribeiro

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10 Citations (Scopus)
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In recent years, researchers have conducted empirical studies in reader response, which have either contested or confirmed earlier theories. Indeed, the 1970s and 1980s saw the shift from interpreting the page to looking into reading processes, but the studies remained on the level of abstraction. Our study follows the trend towards evidence-grounded investigations by examining real readers' reactions to poetry and innovates by looking into cross-cultural receptions of a poem in its original and translated versions. To verify whether responses to poetry are universal or culture specific, a rigorous method was adopted: 500 humanities undergraduate students from two different countries (Brazil and Ukraine) were asked to read Poe's "The Lake" and to gauge their reactions using a questionnaire with a fifteen-item semantic differential scale. Participants read either the original version in English (i.e., a foreign language to them) or its translation into their mother tongue (Portuguese, Russian, or Ukrainian). The results point to statistically significant differences within and between the groups. The findings indicate that first-hand responses to poetry are largely culture specific and that the translations also influence reactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824-849
JournalComparative Literature Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


  • Reader response
  • Cultural differences
  • Translation
  • Poetry reading
  • Empirical research
  • Quantitative methods

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