Literary translation

Authored by: Leena Laiho

The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Philosophy

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138933552
eBook ISBN: 9781315678481
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315678481-28

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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce emerging trends in theoretical approaches to literary translation. At the core of addressing different views on the issue is the concept of a literary work of art. The notion used here is broad in scope and not limited to canonised literature only; however, the linkage with the Western view on literary works of art is obvious – and also intentional. There are two reasons for having thinking in dichotomies as a starting point: one is the heuristic value of this line of thought, the other is that a literary work as an aesthetic object can be claimed to be present even in current theories on literary translation, if not explicitly then at least implicitly. That is to say, those notions such as ‘author’, ‘translator’, ‘original’, ‘translation’, ‘reader’, ‘text’, ‘meaning’, ‘similarity’ and ‘difference’ (generally referred to when addressing literary translation) are all ultimately related to ‘literary work’. Focusing upon literary translation in those terms, I argue, unavoidably implies a view on the identity of a work of art – this in spite of the differences in theoretical orientation and disciplinary background. If literary translation is examined in frameworks such as phenomenology, hermeneutics, deconstruction, or philosophy of art, an explicit encounter with work identity can be expected. When literary translation is considered more as an object of cultural relations and exchange, as done in the context of the post-colonial approach, the aspect of work identity loses some obvious relevance, and literary translation, embedded in cultural and political systems, is understood as an issue of power relationships. The theoretical approaches to be addressed here focus on literary translation from different perspectives in recent scholarly writing, including contributions from Tymoczko, Venuti, and Van Wyke, as well as others, such as Scott, Alvstad and Currie.

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