Translation Spectrum: Essays in Theory and Practice
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Following post-colonialism, translation studies replaced appropriation with the recognition of other as other Berman 88 or not simply other but as a trace within the self Spivak Contemporary characterisations of translation are marked by plurality and indeterminacy. It is the encounter between subjects in language that is interesting. In such a study of literature, translation offers a manifestation of the process, of the becoming.
Translation reveals the movement that is integral to the formation of self, and of text Karpinski Yet we rarely use this unique perspective for purposes other than reproducing the original. But where each translation is a fleeting and highly individual anchoring of ideas, the interest seems rather in the very movement. By not engaging with the translating subject, and articulating this dialogue, we miss the potential of a translational approach to literary analysis.
Vialatte was himself a translator and is perhaps better known for his translations of Franz Kafka into French than for his own fiction; he actively introduced the writer to the French literary scene. Born in the Auvergne, Vialatte lived between France and Germany, spending the six years prior to writing Battling , from to , predominantly in Germany.
The period was one of immense flux, characterised by the writer-in-exile who George Steiner memorably described as an unhoused wanderer across languages.
Never had there been such incidence of both voluntary and enforced emigration, and never so temporarily, with such ease of return. More than before, one could be at home in many places or none, in a mesh of cultures, languages and literary traditions. In Languages in exile , Englund writes that:. No great writer can remain a merely local mind, unwilling to question the relevance of the particular places from which he writes, or to extend the radius of their presence, or to estrange and exile himself, so to speak, at some point in his search for metaphor, from immediate circumstance.
I do not believe myself made to live forever in France. Living abroad will stay dear to me. You learn a lot, and fifteen years in France does not, I think, go as far towards inner enrichment as five years anywhere else; you pay a heavy price perhaps for what you learn, but you live more. Vialatte 44 3. Identity and meaning had become in-dissociable from language where writing served as the drawing board: the disorienting and generative meeting between self and other Englund 1.
In this space, language came alive. Writers such as Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust championed the positive effects of a foreign language or a foreignness of language.
Translation Spectrum: Essays in Theory and Practice
Viewing language as Other invites an experience of literature that is plural and open, beyond the everyday, just as art demands. At first glance, the text follows a neat post-romantic tradition.
The protagonist Battling, a dreamer unfit for this world, obsesses over an unattainable woman and seeks meaning beyond ordinary life. But on closer inspection, things feel a little off-key. Far from the classic French beauty come to inspire the young man, Erna is a strange concoction of national stereotypes and aesthetics which work to confuse her beholders.
The language of the text is fragmented and uncomfortable; it seems eager to escape the confinement of its French words and flat white paper. However, theory points to the value in a translational approach to a study of literature. In his transcendental theory, the original text is itself incomplete; each translation adds another fragment to a greater, mythical whole.
His ideas originated with German Romanticism where meaning was elusive, but the fundamental complementarity of languages could bring one closer to it:.
Meaning is never found in relative independence, as in individual words or sentences; rather, it is in a constant state of flux—until it is able to emerge as pure language from the harmony of all the various modes of intention. Benjamin  Translating a text offers a glimpse of the ideal and fosters the growth of those languages that it acts between.
The modernists met themselves in another language to find an outlet in the very lack of stability and singularity; the Romanticists saw these identities as pieces of a greater puzzle. Fascinated with the self in art, translation was for them an exploration of the unknown via another personality, familiar yet strange. The possibilities of oneself in a foreign language offered ideas and words beyond the everyday, bringing one closer to the inconceivable borders of the self, the edges of the inexpressible and the mysterious otherness around.
Through this labour of the imaginary, the translator could work towards a greater whole, using previously latent resources and mapping previously un-representable areas. While the Romantics yearned for translation to take them beyond language, current theory at least allows that translation bring something Other to the specific individual, within a specific context. Translation sparks a search within the translating subject. As the source text filters through a different voice and language, it creates a pool of possibilities in the target language which in turn stimulates and inspires the movement of ideas Raimondo Like the modernists, the translator is unhoused from language.
Never fully at home, she is rather an acrobat in mid-air Woolf 44 , the words around thick and strange. Untameable but malleable, language is here a tool with which to construct a writhing beast, some of it self, some of it other. The translating subject, hovering untethered, can see the becoming in language. Translation itself, as the smooth transfer of equivalents, is not very interesting. It is rather the untranslatable, the non-translation, the back and forth, multiplicity and ambiguity that warrants attention Apter 4; Cassin xvii.
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Translation spouts questions and confusion where superficial first impressions of the text offered clarity Rose 3. Flitting between original and translation then offers a unique perspective from which to study literature.
The Case of Cameroon
What type of subject should Battling be? Quixotic, brooding, melancholy, dark. And what type of journey is this mue?
Rocky, wavering, shaky, perilous, precarious. Transformation, coming-of-age, sloughing, metamorphosis. For why give your character such a nickname? The title El Desdichado introduces Spanish chivalry and memories of Don Quixote tilting at windmills. But perhaps my habitus in Anglophone literature emphasises the alienated identities in Battling. Mine is an admittedly modernist reading of a text that has never been classified as such in French.
Other essays elucidate the particular processes of translating literature, drama, social science, classics, and songs. How computers can assist in translation and the economics of translation are the subjects of two of the essays. Considering translation as a discipline, the sixteen authors of these essays provide a complete perspective on translation for students considering translation as a career and for anyone interested in how a translation is made.
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