Book reviewThe practices of literary translation: Constraints and creativity Manchester: St Jerome, 1999. 173 pp. ISBN 1-900650-19-3 £ 22.00
Reviewed by Alexandra Lianeri
Table of contents
The romantic image of the author as a creative mind, as a producer of works that bear a promise of originality, has certainly fallen into crisis during the last few decades. Literature is progressively seen more as the outcome of shifting historical exigencies, be they linguistic, cultural or social, than as the enunciation of what was previously unsaid. Texts reveal themselves indebted to previously written texts, thus calling into question claims to uniqueness and authenticity. Authors seem to be more the servants than the masters of cultural norms and conventions. Creativity itself has ceased to be a universal trait of the human spirit and has become an idea, a conception that is no less transient and ephemeral, no less rooted in history than the societies which initially brought it into being. In this context the collective work of this volume edited by Jean Boase-Beier and Michael Holman is a timely engagement with a problem that is no less important to literary and cultural theory than it is to Translation Studies: the opposition between original writings and translations that is informed by another fundamental opposition between constraints and creativity. The book, which developed from papers presented at the Second International [ p. 370 ]Colloquium of the ITI held at the University of East Anglia in 1996, invites its readers to problematise such divisions and seeks to suggest that both original and translated works entail an equal subjection to social constraints and an equal ability to actualise the creative potential of writers, languages and cultures.