Details and Selected Passages

Prismatic Jane Eyre Schools Project – Creative Translation Competition
If Jane Eyre spoke Arabic, what would she say?
If Jane Eyre was set in Spain, what would its world look like?

The Prismatic Jane Eyre Schools Project ran a competition for young people in the UK during 2021-22. We provide the materials here, and you are free to re-use them as you wish. The competition asked entrants to creatively translate a passage from Jane Eyre into a poem in another language. Whether it’s a language you speak at home or one that you’re learning in school, this is a chance for you to use your language skills in fun and creative ways. The competition is not designed to be a test of your grammar or vocabulary, but how you can reimagine the selected passage from Jane Eyre in a different language and through a new form. You do not have to have read Jane Eyre to enter either as we will provide many resources to support your entries.

What is Creative Translation?
When we think of translation, we often think of a straightforward – and hopefully accurate –exchange of words from one language to another. But every translation involves interpretation and creativity, especially when we’re translating literature. Even when a translator aims to keep as much as possible the same, they still need to interpret the text and make many creative decisions about how they will translate it. Certain projects require a freer approach and more significant changes, such as adapting a book into a film or rewriting the text from another character’s perspective.

Competition Details
The competition is open to school-aged young people in the UK, with three age categories for entrants. Each age category will be asked to creatively respond to a selected passage from Jane Eyre by writing a poem in another language. The competition accepts submissions in any language, and all entries need to be accompanied by a literal translation into English. Up to 100 entries will be selected for publication in a print anthology, which will also be available online on the Prismatic Jane Eyre website.

Deadline: midnight (UK time) on 1 March 2022.

The Task
Taking inspiration from the selected passage for your age category, produce a poem in another language. You can translate the passage as creatively as you like. Feel free to change the perspective, the location, or the time period.

Entries should be a poem a maximum of 25 lines, which may be submitted as a text or audio MP3 file. You will also need to include a literal English translation of your poem.

The Extracts

Key Stage 3/S1-3: Chapter 2: locked in the red-room

Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room: at this moment a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and this stirred: while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern, carried by some one across the lawn; but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings: something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort.

Key Stage 4/S4: Chapter 35: Jane supernaturally hears Mr. Rochester’s voice

All the house was still; for I believe all, except St. John and myself, were now retired to rest. The one candle was dying out: the room was full of moonlight. My heart beat fast and thick: I heard its throb. Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible feeling that thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and extremities. The feeling was not like an electric shock; but it was quite as sharp, as strange, as startling: it acted on my senses as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor; from which they were now summoned, and forced to wake. They rose expectant: eye and ear waited, while the flesh quivered on my bones.

“What have you heard? What do you see?” asked St. John. I saw nothing: but I heard a voice somewhere cry—

  “Jane! Jane! Jane!” Nothing more.

Key Stage 5/S5-6: Chapter 38 – St. John Rivers as a heroic missionary in India

As to St. John Rivers, he left England: he went to India. He entered on the path he had marked for himself; he pursues it still. A more resolute, indefatigable pioneer never wrought amidst rocks and dangers. Firm, faithful, and devoted; full of energy, and zeal, and truth, he labours for his race: he clears their painful way to improvement; he hews down like a giant the prejudices of creed and caste that encumber it. He may be stern; he may be exacting; he may be ambitious yet: but his is the sternness of the warrior, Greatheart, who guards his pilgrim-convoy from the onslaught of Apollyon.

Support Available

Before putting together your entry, you may want to go to our Resources page which offers the following helpful materials:

– Introduction to Jane Eyre
– Examples of Jane Eyre adaptations
– For each passage, graphic or illustrative interpretations of the passage and information on the passage’s place in the text.
– Handout on how to turn prose writing into a poem

If you’re working with Arabic, French, Polish, or Spanish, there are extra resources available.