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Professor Bassnett tackles the crucial problems of translation and offers a history of translation theory, beginning with the ancient Romans and encompassing key twentieth-century work. She then explores specific problems of literary translation through a close, practical analysis of texts, and completes her book with extensive suggestion for further reading. John Drakakis Alternative Shakespeares: Volume 2 ed. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
What is there left to say? Twenty-five years ago, the series began with a very clear purpose. In particular, it aimed itself at those undergraduates or beginning postgraduate students who were either learning to come to terms with the new developments or were being sternly warned against them. New Accents deliberately took sides. If mystification or downright demonisation was the enemy, lucidity with a nod to the compromises inevitably at stake there became a friend.
With the apocalypse duly noted, the second Preface proceeded piously to fret over the nature of whatever rough beast might stagger portentously from the rubble. But in so far as it offered some sort of useable purchase on a world of crumbling certainties, it is not to be blushed for.
In the circumstances, any subsequent, and surely final, effort can only modestly look back, marvelling that the series is still here, and not unreasonably congratulating itself on having provided an initial outlet for what turned, over the years, into some of the distinctive voices and topics in literary studies.
But the volumes now re- presented have more than a mere historical interest. As their authors indicate, the issues they raised are still potent, the arguments with which they engaged are still disturbing. Academic study did change rapidly and radically to match, even to help to generate, wide reaching social changes.
A new set of discourses was developed to negotiate those upheavals. Nor has the process ceased. In our deliquescent world, what was unthinkable inside and outside the academy all those years ago now seems regularly to come to pass.
Whether the New Accents volumes provided adequate warning of, maps for, guides to, or nudges in the direction of this new terrain is scarcely for me to say. Perhaps our best achievement lay in cultivating the sense that it was there. The only justification for a reluctant third attempt at a Preface is the belief that it still is.
David and E. Knopf, Inc. Having emerged onto the world stage in the late s, the subject began to be taken seriously, and was no longer seen as an unscientific field of enquiry of secondary importance.
Throughout the s interest in the theory and practice of translation grew steadily. Then, in the s, Translation Studies finally came into its own, for this proved to be the decade of its global expansion. Once perceived as a marginal activity, translation began to be seen as a fundamental act of human exchange.
Today, interest in the field has never been stronger and the study of translation is taking place alongside an increase in its practice all over the world. The electronic media explosion of the s and its implications for the processes of globalization highlighted issues of intercultural communication.
For globalization has its antithesis, as has been demonstrated by the world-wide renewal of interest in cultural origins and in exploring questions of identity. Translation has a crucial role to play in aiding understanding of an increasingly fragmentary world. The translator, as the Irish scholar Michael Cronin has pointed out, is also a traveller, someone engaged in a journey from one source to another.
The twenty-first century surely promises to be the great age of travel, not only across space but also across time. Evidence of the interest in translation is everywhere. A great many books on translation have appeared steadily throughout the past two decades, new journals of translation studies have been established, international professional bodies such as the European Society for Translation have come into being and at least half a dozen translation encyclopaedias have appeared in print, with more to follow.
New courses on translation in universities from Hong Kong to Brazil, and from Montreal to Vienna offer further evidence of extensive international interest in translation studies.
It shows no sign of slowing down in the twenty-first century. With so much energy directed at further investigation of the phenomenon of translation, it is obvious that any such development will not be homogeneous and that different trends and tendencies are bound to develop. We should not be surprised, therefore, that consensus in translation studies disappeared in the s.
However, that has been followed by lively diversification that continues today around the world. Indeed, after a period in which research in computer translation seemed to have foundered, the importance of the relationship between translation and the new technology has risen to prominence and shows every sign of becoming even more important in the future.
Nevertheless, despite the diversity of methods and approaches, one common feature of much of the research in Translation Studies is an emphasis on cultural aspects of translation, on the contexts within which translation occurs. Once seen as a sub-branch of linguistics, translation today is perceived as an inter-disciplinary field of study and the indissoluble connection between language and way of life has become a focal point of scholarly attention.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION 3 The apparent division between cultural and linguistic approaches to translation that characterized much translation research until the s is disappearing, partly because of shifts in linguistics that have seen that discipline take a more overtly cultural turn, partly because those who advocated an approach to translation rooted in cultural history have become less defensive about their position.
In the early years when Translation Studies was establishing itself, its advocates positioned themselves against both linguists and literary scholars, arguing that linguists failed to take into account broader contextual dimensions and that literary scholars were obsessed with making pointless evaluative judgements.
It was held to be important to move the study of translation out from under the umbrella of either comparative literature or applied linguistics, and fierce polemics arguing for the autonomy of Translation Studies were common. Today, such an evangelical position seems quaintly outdated, and Translation Studies is more comfortable with itself, better able to engage in borrowing from and lending techniques and methods to other disciplines. The important work of translation scholars based in linguistics, such figures as Mona Baker, Roger Bell, Basil Hatim, lan Mason, Kirsten Malmkjaer, Katharina Reiss, Hans Vermeer and Wolfram Wilss, to name but some of the better- known, has done a great deal to break down the boundaries between disciplines and to move translation studies on from a position of possible confrontation.
Nor should we forget the enormous importance of such figures as J. Catford, Michael Halliday, Peter Newmark and Eugene Nida whose research into translation before Translation Studies started to evolve as a discipline in its own right laid the foundations for what was to follow.
Literary studies have also moved on from an early and more elitist view of translation. Perhaps the most exciting new trend of all is the expansion of the discipline of Translation Studies beyond the boundaries of Europe. More emphasis has been placed on the inequality of the translation relationship, with writers such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Tejaswini Niranjana and Eric Cheyfitz arguing that translation was effectively used in the past as an instrument of colonial domination, a means of depriving the colonized peoples of a voice.
For in the colonial model, one culture dominated and the others were subservient, hence translation reinforced that power hierarchy. In contrast, another interpretation sees translation as a highly suspect activity, one in which an inequality of power relations inequalities of economics, politics, gender and geography is reflected in the mechanics of textual production. But whereas in earlier centuries this inequality was presented in terms of a superior original and an inferior copy, today the relationship is considered from other points of view that can best be termed post-colonial.
Parallel to the exciting work of Indian, Chinese and Canadian translation scholars, writers such as Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes and Haroldo and Augusto de Campos have called for a new definition of translation.
Significantly, all these writers have come from countries located in the continent of South America, from former colonies engaged in reassessing their own past. Arguing for a rethinking of the role and significance of translation, they draw parallels with the colonial experience.
Hence the translation was doomed to exist in a position of inferiority with regard to the source text from which it was seen to derive. In the new, post-colonial perception of the relationship between source and target texts, that inequality of status has been rethought. Both original and translation are now viewed as equal products of the creativity of writer and translator, though as Paz pointed out, the task of these two is different.
It is up to the writer to fix words in an ideal, unchangeable form and it is the task of the translator to liberate those words from the confines of their source language and allow them to live again in the language into which they are translated. He uses translation metaphorically to describe the condition of the contemporary world, a world in which millions migrate and change their location every day.
The translator is seen as a liberator, someone who frees the text from the fixed signs of its original shape making it no longer subordinate to the source text but visibly endeavouring to bridge the space between source author and text and the eventual target language readership.
The post-colonial approach to translation is to see linguistic exchange as essentially dialogic, as a process that happens in a space that belongs to neither source nor target absolutely. Polysystems theory was a radical development because it shifted the focus of attention away from arid debates about faithfulness and equivalence towards an examination of the role of the translated text in its new context. Significantly, this opened the way for further research into the history of translation, leading also to a reassessment of the importance of translation as a force for change and innovation in literary history.
In , Gideon Toury published Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond, a book that reassessed the polysystems approach disliked by some scholars for its over-emphasis on the target system. Toury maintains that since a translation is designed primarily to fill a need in the target culture, it is logical to make the target system the object of study. He also points out the need to establish patterns of regularity of translational behaviour, in order to study the way in which norms are formulated and how they operate.
Toury explicitly rejects any idea that the object of translation theory is to improve the quality of translations: theorists have one agenda, he argues, while practitioners have different responsibilities.
Polysystems theory filled the gap that opened up in the s between linguistics and literary studies and provided the base upon which the new interdisciplinary Translation Studies could build. Central to polysystems theory was an emphasis on the poetics of the target culture. It was suggested that it should be possible to predict the conditions under which translations might occur and to predict also what kind of strategies translators might employ.
To ascertain whether this hypothesis was valid and to establish fundamental principles, case studies of translations across time were required, hence the emergence of what has come to be termed descriptive studies in translation. Translation Studies began to move out into a distinctive space of its own, beginning to research its own genealogy and seeking to assert its independence as an academic field.
Through a series of case studies, this broadening of the object of study led to a division within the group of translation scholars loosely associated with the polysystems approach. Lefevere first developed his idea of translation as refraction rather than reflection, offering a more complex model than the old idea of translation as a mirror of the original. Inherent in his view of translation as refraction was a rejection of any linear notion of the translation process.
Texts, he argued, have to be seen as complex signifying systems and the task of the translator is to decode and re-encode whichever of those systems is accessible. In his later work, Lefevere expanded his concern with the metaphorics of translation to an enquiry into what he termed the conceptual and textual grids that constrain both writers and translators, suggesting that Problems in translating are caused at least as much by discrepancies in conceptual and textual grids as by discrepancies in languages.
Similarly, Venuti insists upon the creativity of the translator and upon the his or her visible presence in a translation. In the s the figure of the subservient translator has been replaced with the visibly manipulative translator, a creative artist mediating between cultures and languages.
This new emphasis on subjectivity derives from two distinct influences: on the one hand, the growing importance of research into the ethics of translation, and on the other hand a much greater attention to the broader philosophical issues that underpin translation. This positive view of translation serves to reinforce the importance of translating as an act both of inter-cultural and inter-temporal communication.
Who, for example, would have any access to the forgotten women poets of ancient Greece without translation, asks Josephine Balmer in her illuminating preface to her translations of classical women poets? The links between Translation Studies and post-colonial theory represent one such alliance, as do the links between Translation Studies and corpus linguistics.
Another significant alliance is that between Translation Studies and gender studies. For language, as Sherry Simon points out, does not simply mirror reality, but intervenes in the shaping of meaning. Just as Gender Studies have challenged the notion of a single unified concept of culture by asking awkward questions about the ways in which canonical traditions are formed, so Translation Studies, through its many alliances, asks questions about what happens when a text is transferred from source to target culture.
The common threads that link the many diverse ways in which translation has been studied over the past two decades are an emphasis on diversity, a rejection of the old terminology of translation as faithlessness and betrayal of an original, the foregrounding of the manipulative powers of the translator and a view of translation as bridge-building across the space between source and target.
This celebration of in-betweenness, which scholars from outside the field of translation have also stressed, reflects the changing nature of the world we live in.
Translation Studies by Bassnett Susan, First Edition
The new edition of this well-established introduction to Translation Studies, first published in , includes a new preface and an extended bibliography containing new work in Translation Studies written in English from to The preface emphasises however how much work in the field has been undertaken in India, Chinese- and Arabic-speaking countries, Latin America and Africa. This shift away from a Eurocentric perspective has wider implications, and helps explain the growing status of Translation Studies as a discipline in its own right rather than as an adjunct to other disciplines. Professor Bassnett indicates two ways in which this has come about, both of which are rather understated. One is the relationship between Translation Studies and post-colonial discourse p.
Translation Studies by Susan Bassnett
Susan Bassnett born is a translation theorist and scholar of comparative literature. She served as pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Warwick for ten years and taught in its Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies, which closed in As of , she is a professor of comparative literature at the Universities of Glasgow and Warwick. Among her more than twenty books, several have become mainstays in the field of literary criticism, especially Translation Studies and Comparative Literature A book on Ted Hughes was published in In addition to her scholarly works, Bassnett writes poetry which was published as Exchanging Lives: Poems and Translations In a essay titled Reflections on Comparative Literature in the Twenty-First Century , she engaged with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak who argues in Death of a Discipline that the field of comparative literature must move beyond its eurocentrism if it is to stay relevant.