Publication details [#12962]

Krebs, Katja. 2007. Anticipating blue lines: translational choice as a site of (self)-censorship translating for the British stage under the Lord Chamberlain. In Billiani, Francesca, ed. Modes of censorship and translation: national contexts and diverse media. Manchester: St. Jerome. pp. 167–186.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


The Lord Chamberlain acted as the censor of all British theatre from 1843 until the abolition of his censorial powers in 1968. Every play (including translations) to be performed before a public audience had to be submitted to the Lord Chamberlain's office for licensing prior to any public performance. As Helen Freshwater points out in her assessment of the Lord Chamberlain's archive, this function 'was originally designed as a tool … to silence and suppress' (2003: 732) and she goes on to argue that 'the most pernicious effect of the censorship system may have been its encouragement of self-censorship' (2003: 750). However, the archive by its very nature apparently 'does not, and indeed cannot, record the operation of this form of [anticipatory self-] censorship' (2003: 751). Taking Freshwater's analysis as its point of departure, this article argues that translations of playtexts submitted to the Lord Chamberlain's office for licensing can offer visual and textual traces of anticipation and self-censorship. Examining the multiplicity of censorship, the translational choice as an act of potential self-censorship and anticipation, and the censorial context in relation to notions of national dramatic genius, this chapter establishes that the translator and the translated text can be understood as multiple inter-related sites of censorship. It concludes that translators and translations, through their activity and indeed their very existence, connect the dissenting, anticipating voice of the censored with the repressive/permissive power of the censor.
Source : Abstract in book