The Art of Translation
Editor and foreword author
Zuzana Jettmarová | Charles University
Jiří Levý’s seminal work, The Art of Translation, considered a timeless classic in Translation Studies, is now available in English. Having drawn on adjacent disciplines, the methodology of Czech functional sociosemiotic structuralism and the state-of-the art in the West, Levý synthesized his findings and experience in the field presenting them in a reader-friendly book, which combines the approaches of a theoretician, systemic analyst, historian, critic, teacher, practitioner and populariser. Although focused on literary translation from theoretical, descriptive and historical perspectives, it presents a conceptualization of a general theory, addressing a number of issues discussed today. The ‘practical’ mission of the book as a theory extending to practice is based on the same historical-dialectic affinity of methods, norms, functions and values, accounting for the translator’s agency and other contextual agents involved in the communication process. The book will be useful to translators, researchers, students and teachers in Translation and Literary Studies.
[Benjamins Translation Library, 97] 2011. xxviii, 322 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins (English only)
Table of Contents
Introduction to the second edition (1983) | pp. ix–xiv
Editor’s introduction to the English edition | pp. xv–xxvi
Translator’s introduction to the English edition | pp. xxvii–xxviii
Chapter 1. Translation theory: The state of the art | pp. 3–22
Chapter 2. Translation as a process | pp. 23–56
Chapter 3. Translation aesthetics | pp. 57–106
Chapter 4. On the poetics of translation | pp. 107–128
Chapter 5. Drama translation | pp. 129–166
Chapter 6. Translation in literary studies | pp. 167–186
Chapter 1. Original verse and translated verse | pp. 189–204
Chapter 2. Translating from non-cognate versification systems | pp. 205–216
Chapter 3. Translating from cognate versification systems | pp. 217–274
Chapter 4. Notes on the comparative morphology of verse | pp. 275–298
Chapter 5. Integrating style and thought | pp. 299–300
Index | pp. 311–322
“With remarkable acuity, he pinpointed the main problems of poetry translation and in many respects marked out the lines along which future research would proceed.”
Routledge Encyclopaedia of Translation Studies (1998: 380-381)
“His exuberant pioneering spirit is all the more remarkable, as is the fact that his innovative ideas have in essence neither been refuted nor become outdated over the last forty years, many have on the contrary been confirmed.”
Mary Snell-Hornby, University of Vienna (2006: 23), The Turns of Translation Studies
“The approach is both functional, in that it seeks to explain the occurrence and nature of translation in terms of its function in the receiving culture, and structuralist, in that Levý constantly looks for patterns behind phenomena, the grammar underlying events.”
Theo Hermans, University College of London (1994: 24), Translation in Systems
“Levý’s focus on decision-making also highlights the translator’s power and responsibility.”
Theo Hermans, University College of London (1999: 74), Translation in Systems
“Levý, the great Czech translation scholar, insisted that any contracting or omitting of difficult expressions in translating was immoral … and he declared that the functional view must be adopted with regard not only to meaning but also to style and form.”
Susan Bassnett, University of Warwick (2004: 30), Translation Studies
“In the West-European countries it is above all since the publication of (the German translation of) Levý’s Literarische Übersetzung (1969, orig. 1963) that the study of translated literature has really changed (although slowly and not everywhere …).”
José Lambert, KU Leuven (in Delabastita et al. 2006: 82), Functional Approaches to Culture and Translation
“To translation-as-communication he adds the translator as a decision-making agent. He points to the relevance of historically contingent concepts of translation for the practice of translating in a given period. He emphasizes the importance of prevailing attitudes towards translation as the backdrop to practical norms of translating.”
Theo Hermans, University College of London (1999: 24), Translation in Systems
“Jiří Levý´s Czech monograph was the most helpful Slavic book. Thoroughly grounded in Western European as well as Slavic translation theory and practice, it is far more erudite and sophisticated than any of the Soviet sources.”
Maurice Friedberg, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1997: 73), Literary Translation in Russia
“The Editor’s Introduction contains a maximum of potential relevant information on Levý´s significance, his theory and work. Also elaborated are items such as Czech structuralism, the original – translation relationship, the translation process, translativity as a category. Described is the complex genesis of the book as well as its prior reception in international TS. There are many books bearing the same title, in many languages (e.g. by Chukovsky, Dedecius, Savory), but Levý´s Art is a unique work. It has been made accessible to the world public by P. Corness, erudite translator and Slavist, under the editorship of Z. Jettmarová, prominent Czech translation scholar enjoying international repute in TS circles. To me, this publication is the most cherished and significant event in Czech TS since the first publication of Umění překladu in Czech. Some things do take their due time and course. Z.Jettmarová´s long-standing research and scholarly work may have, besides her other relevant outputs, born an unprecedented fruit. Thanks to the initiated editorial foreword, The Art of Translation shall probably become a contribution not only for TS scholars in their search of a metatheory. Also Czech enthusiasts, knowing „their“ Czech version, may indulge in a comparison of interpretations or in detecting some planned deviations (e.g. differences in exemplifications). Most importantly, this edition is both a gift and a task (in the sense of the German Gabe und Aufgabe) for the discipline and profession alike. As Karel Hausenblas, the editor and translator of the 1983 Czech version, said, any following work in TS had to be measured up to Jiří Levý´s work. Now, it may be other works that will be compared to and seen through the universally accessible Levý.”
Tomáš Svoboda (translated by Zuzana Jetmarová), in ToP, 103/2012
“[...] the book proves to be valuable to translators, researchers, students and teachers in the field of Translation and Literary Studies who could not read the Czech or the German version of the book. The English version of Levý’s book will be a major contribution to our understanding of the extent to which translation studies emerged as a new academic field in the twentieth century.”
Adina Nicolae, UPG Ploieşti, in Word and Text. A Journal of Literary Studies and Linguistics Vol. II, Issue 2 December 2012
“Jiří Levý’s The Art of Translation is finally available in English. That, in itself, is good news for any translation scholar who reads neither in Czech nor in German. Although it appears in English almost 50 years after its first Czech edition was published, the book has lost surprisingly little of its relevance. [...] The Art of Translation ought not only to be on every translation scholar’s bookshelf. It should also be read.”
Jaroslav Špirk, Charles University, Prague, in Target Vol. 26:3 (2014)
“Patrick Corness and Zuzana Jettmarová should be commended not only for bringing Levý to an English readership, but also for enacting what Levý envisaged: an informed, erudite translation and introduction, that engages with and reveals theories important to the history of translation theory and contemporary Translation Studies.”
Michelle Woods, SUNY New Paltz, in TTR – Traduction, terminologie et rédaction, Vol. 25.2, 2012
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