Publication details [#12407]

Lambert, José. 2004. La traduction littéraire comme problème belge ou la littérature comme traduction [Literary translation as a Belgian problem or literature as translation]. In Delabastita, Dirk, Lieven D'hulst and Reine Meylaerts, eds. Functional approaches to culture and translation: selected papers by José Lambert (Benjamins Translation Library 69). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 173–196.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


The article argues that literary scholars too often exclude 'minor' literatures from their global cartography or study them with static, monolingual and therefore inadequate models, and raises fundamental question about literatures in a mixed culture. The author feels that two centuries of intra-Belgian translational relationships have amply demonstrated that 'Belgian' literature is an object of study that can never be monolingual. Any analysis that wishes to examine the functioning of literatures in Belgium, regardless even of translation, has to take into account the instability of languages and the competition between different linguistic and cultural options (Flemish, Dutch, Francophone, Walloon, French, German, …). Most of the time, as may be illustrated by their manifold linguistic and stylistic hesitations, translations appear to function within Belgium and are thus a 'Belgian' affair, reflecting the fluctuations and differentiations of literary position and ambitions. Therefore, the sheer juxtaposition of the respective 'traditional' monolingual Flemish and Francophone literary canons can give us only part of the picture of literatures in Belgium. Attention must be paid to the struggle between linguistic options in a multilingual context, revealing the permanent hesitation between different centres and the problematic attempts at identity construction.
Source : A. Matthyssen