Creativity

Carol O’Sullivan

Table of contents

As many scholars have observed, the status of translation has long suffered from being considered derivative, by contrast with ‘original’ literary writing, which is considered to be creative. Indeed, the importance of the concept of creativity to Translation Studies is partly due to its use by scholars and critics with a view to improving the status of translation by showing that it is, indeed, “creative”. Several different approaches have been adopted. Some scholars have focused on fields of translation activity in which creativity is generally supposed to be important, such as Literary translation, Poetry translation, the translation of wordplay and, more recently, transcreation, adaptation and multimodal translation (see Multimodality and audiovisual translation). There have been studies of the work of writers, such as Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky or James Joyce, who translate their own work. This Self-translation is perceived by some critics as intrinsically more creative than translation ‘proper’, just as writers who translate have often been analysed as using Translation strategies and tactics which differ from those of professional translators. Some scholars have argued that creativity is an intrinsic part of the translating process. Creativity is understood by others as a choice on the translator’s part, a function of the translator’s agency (see also Agents of translation), and therefore paradoxically something which potentially sets (creative) writing and translation apart from translation “proper”. Eugenia Loffredo and Manuela Perteghella have usefully pointed out that distinctions between ‘original’ and ‘derivative’ writing are themselves cultural constructs and increasingly untenable in a postmodern critical era (2006: 3–6); if translation is a mode of writing, then it cannot be separated from the broader concept of literary writing itself: both are ‘creative writing’.

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