Publication details [#13598]

Publication type
Article in Special issue
Publication language


This introduction surveys some of the main trends in the theoretical study of literary translation developed in the past few decades. It does not aim to compose a complete picture of the field, if only because the scope of this special issue of Diacritics is relatively specialized. The author does not, for example, say much about feminist approaches to translation beyond pointing out the manifestly masculinist imagery of sexual conquest that underwrites many descriptions of the translation process, vividly (and often disturbingly) conveying the translator's struggle with the original work. The work of the translator-poet often involves a turn away from conventional practices of translation based on such categories as equivalence, fidelity, and literalism, and toward the activities of aggressively rectifying and rewriting preexisting texts. Indeed, a poet's translation into his own language of a foreign poet's work provides a very interesting case of translation as a form of intrusion of one code upon another. The degree of hostility that such clashes may entail, and the strategies that translators may implement for their contextualization and interpretation, have been approached very differently by methodologies with varying commitments to political and textual brands of criticism. Historians of literature and theorists of cultural exchange tend to be particularly interested in recording and analyzing the additions and subtractions taking place during the semiotic transfer. They are also (or at least should be) interested in the arguments employed by cultural transmitters to justify those changes, and in the mechanisms that render them invisible to many readers of literature and consumers of culture generally.
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