Book reviewKey Cultural Texts in Translation (Benjamins Translation Library 140). Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2018. xiv, 336 pp.
Reviewed by Birong Huang
The term ‘key cultural text’ (KCT) is widely used in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, media studies, and literary studies but is still quite novel in translation studies. The editors of the volume under review explain that “in every literate culture, texts of many types, genres and forms (textual, audiovisual and visual) play central roles in presenting and representing the culture to itself and in defining its cultural others (people, places, and customs). We refer to these types of text as Key Cultural Texts” (1). As Snell-Hornby (2006, 115) proposes, translation studies has taken two major turns: empirical studies from within versus technology and globalization from without. Driven by a globalized trend for the increasing exchange among different cultures, research focused on KCTs unveils what constitutes success and failure in people’s attempts to adjust to each other and mutually accommodate. The book Key Cultural Texts in Translation is thus very pertinent. The book presents relevant current research in translation studies and offers thematic discussions in broadly defined areas of KCTs. It examines how key cultural texts and concepts are transferred between nations and languages as well as across different media through translation. The volume presents various cultural and methodological frameworks in translation studies and beyond, including literary studies, history, philosophy, art, and gender studies. It contains 17 contributions by leading experts from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds, both Western and Eastern, organized into six parts.