The translator’s immobility
English modern classics in Italy
Translations are facts of target cultures, but the perceived status of source texts has a bearing on how these are reflected or refracted in the target language. This proposition is particularly evident in the case of classics: when translators have to work on literary creations occupying a pivotal position in the source/target cultures, they adopt strategies of literalness and ennoblement which betray a quasi-religious awe—on the one hand, a desire to ruffle the surface of the revered original as little as possible; and on the other, a determination to reproduce the supposed ‘classical qualities’ of the classic even when they are not present in the source. In the following article, I examine how the ‘idea of classic’ influences translation theory and practice, substantiating my theoretical observations by looking at Italian translations of English classics. A marked—and historically determined—disparity between source and target readerships, and the translators’ reverence for their prestigious originals, conspire to produce Italian versions which are much more ‘wooden’ and ‘elegant’ than their English counterparts.
Keywords: descriptive translation studies, comparative literature, translation norms, religious literature, literary classics, history of reading
Keywords: étude descriptive de la traduction, littérature comparée, normes en matière de traduction, littérature religieuse, oeuvres classiques, histoire de la lecture
Published online: 16 December 2009
Altick, Richard D.
1995 “Tra ‘volumen’ e ‘codex’. La lettura nel mondo romano”. Cavallo and Chartier 1995 . 37–69.
Cavallo, Guglielmo and Roger Chartier
Chapdelaine, Annick and Gillian Lane Mercier
Dimitriu, Rodica[ p. 356 ]
1995 “Riforma protestante e lettura”. Cavallo and Chartier 1995 . 243–75.
1995 “L’umanista come lettore”. Cavallo and Chartier 1995 . 199–242.
1995 “Letture e controriforma”. Cavallo and Chartier 1995 . 277–316.
Toury, Gideon[ p. 357 ]
Cited by 3 other publications
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