A literary work – Translation and original: A conceptual analysis within the philosophy of art and Translation Studies

Leena Laiho

Abstract

The focus of this paper lies on the translatability of a literary work of art. The phenomenon is approached as a conceptual challenge subsumed under the question Can the identity of a literary work of art be retained when the work is translated? Since the question of translatability as posed here belongs to the realm of philosophy of art, the problematic nature of ‘original’, ‘translation’ and ‘identity’ is discussed first in the theoretical context of analytic philosophy. I then consider the issue within the framework of Translation Studies. By showing the definitional diversity the necessity of contextual embedding and theoretical explicitness is highlighted. A genuine exchange of ideas and views, between and within disciplines, presupposes conceptual transparency.

Keywords
Table of contents

“But can we always be certain that we know what a translation is?” The idea of this paper can be expressed using Susan Bassnett’s (1998a: 27) words, or misusing them. I argue that the problematic nature of some central concepts in the analysis of literary translation, such as original, translation and identity, is often ignored, and that a more analytical approach should be taken. I believe that a demonstrative conceptual analysis will highlight the need for clarity in using these terms, and widen the perspective in contemporary discussions within and on translation theories. These discussions often take place within so-called translation sociology, and therefore the concepts in question are linked to questions of power relations and text production.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

[ p. 310 ]References

Amman, Margret
1990 “Anmerkungen zu einer Theorie der Übersetzungskritik und ihrer praktischer Anwendung”. TextConText 5. 209–250.Google Scholar
Baker, Mona
ed. 1998Routledge encyclopedia of Translation Studies. London and New York: Routledge.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Bassnett, Susan
1998a “When is a translation not a translation?” Bassnett and Lefevere 1998 . 25–40.Google Scholar
1998b “The translation turn in Cultural Studies”. Bassnett and Lefevere 1998 . 123–140.Google Scholar
2002Translation Studies. 3rd London and New York: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
Bassnett, Susan and André Lefevere
1998Constructing cultures: Essays on literary translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Borges, Jorge Luis
2000 [1964] “Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote”, tr. James E. Irby. Yates and Irby 2000 . 62–71.Google Scholar
2003 [1944, 1974] “Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote”. Ficciones. Madrid: Allianza Editorial 2003 41–55.Google Scholar
van den Broeck, Raymond
1978 “The concept of equivalence in translation theory: Some critical reflections”. Holmes et al 1978 29–47.Google Scholar
1985 “Second thoughts of translation criticism: A model of its analytic function”. Hermans 1985 . 54–62. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Cooper, David E.
ed. 2003A companion to aesthetics. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Croce, Benedetto
1997 [1948/1902] The Aesthetic as the science of expression and of the linguistic in general, tr. Colin Lyas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Danto, Arthur C.
2001 [1981] The transfiguration of the commonplace: A philosophy of art. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Gaut, Berys and Dominic McIver Lopes
eds. 2005The Routledge companion to aesthetics, ed. Berys Gaut, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge 2005 241–253.Google Scholar
Gentzler, Edwin
2001Contemporary translation theories. 2nd ed. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Goodman, Nelson
1976Languages of art: An approach to a theory of symbols. 2nd ed. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company.Google Scholar
Goodman, Nelson and Catherine Z. Elgin
1988Reconceptions in philosophy and other arts and sciences. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company.Google Scholar
Gracia, Jorge J.E.
2001 “Borges’s ‘Pierre Menard’: Philosophy or literature?The journal of aesthetics and art criticism 59:1. 45–57.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Haapala, Arto
1989What is a work of literature? Helsinki: The Philosophical Society of Helsinki. [Acta Philosophica Fennica, 46.]Google Scholar
Halverson, Sandra
1997 “The concept of equivalence in Translation Studies: Much ado about something”. Target 9:2. 207–233.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Hermans, Theo
ed. 1985The manipulation of literature: Studies in literary translation. New York: St Martins Press.[ p. 311 ]Google Scholar
Holmes, James S, José Lambert and Raymond van den Broeck
eds. 1978Literature and translation: New perspectives in literary studies with a basic bibliography of books on Translation Studies. Leuven: Acco.Google Scholar
Kristal, Efraín
2002Invisible work: Borges and translation. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Laiho, Leena
1999Journalistische Übersetzungskritik: Modell und Analyse von Übersetzungskritik in journalistischer Literaturkritik. University of Turku. [Licentiate Thesis.]Google Scholar
2000 “Journalistisen käännöskritiikin kuva”. Kritiikin uutiset 2000:1. 11–13.Google Scholar
2004 “Schweigen über die Identität oder Nicht-Identität: Literarische Kunst”. Asko Timonen, Wolfgang Greisenegger and Raoul Kneucker, eds. The language of silence II. Turku: University of Turku 2004 223–239. [Annales Universitatis Turkuensis B, 271.]Google Scholar
2006 “The identity and translation of a literary work of art”. Tommola and Gambier 2006 . 39–50.Google Scholar
Levinson, Jerrold
1980 “What a musical work is”. The journal of philosophy 77:1. 5–28.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Levý, Jiří
1969Die literarische Übersetzung: Theorie einer Kunstgattung, tr. Walter Schamschula. Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum.Google Scholar
2000 [1967] “Translation as a decision process”. Venuti 2000 . 148–159.Google Scholar
Margolis, Joseph
1987a “The ontological peculiarity of works of art”. Margolis 1987 . 253–260.Google Scholar
1987b “Robust relativism”. Margolis 1987 . 484–498.Google Scholar
ed. 1987Philosophy looks at the arts: Contemporary readings in aesthetics. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
1999What, after all, is a work of art?: Lectures in the philosophy of art. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
Mikkonen, Jukka
2004 “Tekstien ja merkitysten suhde Nelson Goodmanin kirjallisuuden filosofiassa”. niin&näin—f ilosofinen aikakausilehti. 2004:4. 67–72.Google Scholar
Reiß, Katarina and Hans J. Vermeer
1984Grundlegung einer allgemeinen Translationstheorie. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Rohrbaugh, Guy
2005 “Ontology of art”. Gaut and McIver Lopes 2005 . 241–253. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Schäffner, Christina
1998 “Skopos theory”. Baker 1998 . 235–238. Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Sheppard, Anne
1987Aesthetics: An introduction to the philosophy of art. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Stolze, Radegundis
1994Übersetzungstheorien: Eine Einführung. Tübingen: Gunter Narr.Google Scholar
Tommola, Jorma and Yves Gambier
eds. 2006Translation and interpreting—Training and research. Turku: University of Turku, Department of English Studies.Google Scholar
Venuti, Lawrence
1997 [1995] The translator’s invisibility: A history of translation. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
ed. 2000The Translation Studies reader. London and New York: Routledge.   Crossref logoGoogle Scholar
Vermeer, Hans J.
1996Übersetzen als Utopie: Die Übersetzungstheorie des Walter Bendix Schoenflies Benjamin. Heidelberg: TextConText-Verlag.Google Scholar
2000 [1989] “Skopos and commission in translational action”, tr. Andrew Chesterman. Venuti, 2000 . 221–232.Google Scholar
Wollheim, Richard
1982Objekte der Kunst, tr. Max Looser. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
1987 [1968] “Art and its objects“. Margolis 1987 . 208–228.Google Scholar
Wolterstorff, Nicholas
2003 “Ontology of artworks”. Cooper 2003 . 310–314.Google Scholar
Yates, Donald A. and James E. Irby
eds. 2000 [1964]. Labyrinths: Selected stories and other writings. Harmondsworth: Penguin.[ p. 312 ]Google Scholar