Luciano Bianciardi: Interventionist translation in the age of mechanical labour
University of Urbino
Starting with a discussion of ‘translator-centred’ translation studies, this article discusses the Italian writer
Luciano Bianciardi as translation practitioner and theorist. Working in the age of mechanical labour and mechanical typewriters,
Bianciardi translated at incredible speed, putting in physically exhausting daily shifts. Not surprisingly, he articulated a
vision of his trade that associated it with the physical effort of shifting heavy loads of mud – a job he had seen performed by
labourers in his native Tuscany. However, he saw the process of ‘turning over’ this linguistic mud as no mere slavish effort: just
as he ‘infected’ his original writings with his own target texts, Bianciardi consciously imbued his translations with his
personality and his style.
In the last three decades of theorizing, the figure of the translator has finally started to take centre stage within the discipline of translation studies. From the 1970s onwards, descriptive scholars began to shift the focus from rules to norms (Holmes 1988, 66–80; Toury 1978), and from how translations should be done to how translations were actually done, by real translators. But it was only in the early 1990s that the financial and social conditions in which translators operate, as well as their cognitive, emotional and physical responses, were chosen as the main topic of a series of important studies. An early exploration of the field was Douglas Robinson’s The Translator’s Turn, which busied itself with the “somatics” of translation, and announced that it was now, indeed, “the translator’s turn” to be considered as the main agent of his/her craft (Robinson 1991, xvi). Four years later, Lawrence Venuti published his famous study on The Translator’s Invisibility (1995), which again posed an individual (though necessarily generic) “translator” at the centre of a very ambitious History of Translation. In the following decades, a series of monographs and collections of essays followed which had the word “translator” in their titles (e.g., Bassnett and Bush 2006; Morini 2013).
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1980Bianciardi. Firenze: La Nuova Italia.
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2000 “La fatica del traduttore.” In Bianciardi 2000, 135–141.
Bassnett, Susan, and Peter Bush
eds.2006The Translator as Writer. London: Continuum.
ed.2000Carte su carte di ribaltatura: Luciano Bianciardi traduttore. Firenze: Giunti.
1961 “Il lavoro del traduttore.” In Bianciardi 2008, 873–875.
1962La vita agra. Milano: Rizzoli.
1965La vita agra, or, It’s a Hard Life [orig. La vita agra
]. Translated by Eric Mosbacher. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
1969Aprire il fuoco. Milano: Rizzoli.
2008Luciano Bianciardi. L’antimeridiano: tutte le opere. Volume secondo: Scritti giornalistici. Edited by Luciana Bianciardi, Massimo Coppola, and Alberto Piccinini. Milano: ISBN Edizioni.
2009Il lavoro culturale. Milano: Feltrinelli.
2000 “Bianciardi traduttore e traduttore dal francese.” In Bianciardi 2000, 85–113.
2009 “The Name and Nature of Translator Studies.” Hermes 42: 13–22.
1993Vita agra di un anarchico: Luciano Bianciardi a Milano. Milano: Baldini&Castoldi.
1988 “Character and Self in Autobiography.” The Journal of Narrative Technique 18 (2): 105–119.
1990New Selected Poems 1966–1987. London: Faber and Faber.
1985 “Images of Translation: Metaphor and Imagery in the Renaissance Discourse on Translation.” In The Manipulation of Literature: Studies in Literary Translation, edited by Theo Hermans, 103–136. London: Croom Helm.
Holmes, James S.
1988Translated! Papers on Literary Translation and Translation Studies. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
1964 “Cesare Pavese, il mito e la scienza del mito.” Sigma 1 (3–4): 95–120.
2016 “Translation and the Materialities of Communication.” Translation Studies 9 (1): 82–96.
2006 “Translating as a Body: Meditations on Mediation.” In The Translator as Writer, edited by Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush, 137–148. London: Continuum.
2007 “The Translator as an Intervenient Being.” In Translation as Intervention, edited by Jeremy Munday, 1–17. London: Continuum.
2018 “Key Clusters as Indicators of Translator Style.” Target 30 (2): 240–259.
2017 “The Role of Translation in the History of Publishing: Publishers and Contemporary Poetry Translation in 1960s Italy.” Translation Studies 10 (3): 296–311.
2006Tudor Translation in Theory and Practice. Aldershot: Ashgate.
2010 “Translating Personalities: A Stylistic Model.” In Testo e traduzione: Lingue a confronto, edited by Fabiana Fusco and Monica Ballerini, 175–198. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
2013The Pragmatic Translator: An Integral Theory of Translation. London: Bloomsbury.
2014 “Using Primary Sources to Produce a Microhistory of Translation and Translators: Theoretical and Methodological Concerns.” The Translator 20 (1): 64–80.
2014 “From La dolce vita to La vita agra: The Image of the Italian Literary Translator as an Illusory, Rebellious and Precarious Intellectual.” In Transfiction: Research into the Realities of Translation Fiction, edited by Klaus Kaindl and Karlheinz Spitzl, 127–139. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
2017 “Technology, Translation and Society: A Constructivist, Critical Theory Approach.” Target 29 (2): 264–283.
2017 “Humanum ex Machina: Translation in the Post-global, Posthuman World.” Target 29 (2): 284–300.
2000 “Bianciardi traduttore di narrativa americana: Alla catena di Harvey Swados e Il re della pioggia di Saul Bellow.” In Bianciardi 2000, 60–84.
2000 “Sondaggi testuali su Bianciardi traduttore.” In Bianciardi 2000, 41–59.
1991The Translator’s Turn. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
1997Becoming a Translator: An Accelerated Course. London: Routledge.
2011Translation and the Problem of Sway. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
2017 “What Kind of Literature is a Literary Translation?” Target 29 (3): 440–463.
1998 “The Pivotal Status of the Translator’s Habitus.” Target 10 (1): 1–39.
1974Bianciardi com’era (Lettere di Luciano Bianciardi a un amico grossetano). Grosseto: Il paese reale.
1978 “The Nature and Role of Norms in Literary Translation.” In Literature and Translation: New Perspectives in Literary Studies, edited by James S. Holmes, José Lambert and Raymond van den Broeck, 83–100. Leuven: Acco.
1995Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
1986 “The Translator’s Invisibility.” Criticism 28 (2): 179–213.
1995The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. London: Routledge.
2010 “Translating the Body: Towards an Erotics of Translation.” Translation and Literature 19 (1): 1–25.