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Literature in Translation

Teaching Issues and Reading Practices

Edited by Carol Maier and Francoise Massardier-Kenney

Publication Year: 2010

New pedagogy for studying literature in translation

In the last several decades, literary works from around the world have made their way onto the reading lists of American university and college courses in an increasingly wide variety of disciplines. This is a cause for rejoicing. Through works in translation, students in our mostly monolingual society are at last becoming acquainted with the multilingual and multicultural world in which they will live and work. Many instructors have expanded their reach to teach texts that originate from across the globe. Unfortunately, literature in English translation is frequently taught as if it had been written in English, and students are not made familiar with the cultural, linguistic, and literary context in which that literature was produced. As a result, they submit what they read to their own cultural expectations; they do not read in translation and do not reap the benefits of intercultural communication.

Here a true challenge arises for an instructor. Books in translation seldom contain introductory information about the mediation that translation implies or the stakes involved in the transfer of cultural information. Instructors are often left to find their own material about the author or the culture of the source text. Lacking the appropriate pedagogical tools, they struggle to provide information about either the original work or about translation itself, and they might feel uneasy about teaching material for which they lack adequate preparation. Consequently, they restrict themselves to well-known works in translation or works from other countries originally written in English.

Literature in Translation: Teaching Issues and Reading Practices squarely addresses this pedagogical lack. The book's sixteen essays provide for instructors a context in which to teach works from a variety of languages and cultures in ways that highlight the effects of linguistic and cultural transfers.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Title Page, Coyright

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pp. vii-viii

A truly collaborative endeavor, Literature in Translation has benefited from numerous contributions during its conceptualization and preparation. We are grateful to several anonymous readers whose helpful comments and suggestions we considered carefully and heeded to the best of our ability. We also want to express our gratitude to Brent Winter for his meticulous...

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pp. 1-8

The last several decades have seen college and university students across the united states reading a wide variety of literary works from around the world, as literature in english translation has made its way onto the reading lists of courses in such disciplines and interdisciplines as anthropology, creative writing, ethnic studies, gender studies, philosophy, world literature...

Part One: General Principles

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pp. 9-10

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Choosing and Introducing a Translation

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pp. 11-21

A promise of exposure to the unfamiliar—and the perception of its allure! What better way to preface an essay about choosing a translation? The question is not merely rhetorical, because writing this chapter presented a challenge that can be summed up nicely as the absence of “a consensus among translators, readers, and critics as to what a translation should do”...

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Translation Theory and Its Usefulness

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pp. 22-30

Teachers and readers of texts in translation seldom reflect on the fact that translators have been key intermediaries who create literary “value” and greatly contribute to the creation of notions of “literature” (especially “great literature”) by introducing new forms and authors who often become part of the canon that defines the readers’ culture (Casanova 27). This situation is...

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“Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in KansasAnymore”: Reading and Presenting Textsin Translation from “Familiar” Cultures

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pp. 31-42

The difficulty in confronting any literary text, translation or not, is relative to our distance from it in any of the myriad ways we might define “distance.” Most critical and pedagogical approaches to literature attempt to shed light on particular aspects of a work in the hope that illuminating a text or some aspect of it will shorten the distance between it and the reader, or at least enable the...

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“Take it with a Grain of MSG”: Reading Translated Literatures from Other Shores

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pp. 43-52

In this age of globalization, transcoding is prevalent, ranging from adopting Unicode as the universal standard for digitizing all the scripts in the world to thematizing a foreign literary text as if it were a local story but scripted in a different language. In both cases, the other’s mode of inscription or structure of meaning is regarded as dispensable or secondary to the content, or data, to...

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Fictional Texts as Pedagogical Tools

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pp. 53-68

I have assumed the mysterious obligation to reconstruct, word for word, the novel that for him was spontaneous. This game of solitaire I play is governed by two polar rules: the first allows me to try out formal or psychological variants; the second forces me to sacrifice them to the “original” text and to come, by irrefutable arguments, to those eradications...

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Between Reading and Writing

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pp. 69-84

When we assign a translation in class, how do we convey to our students that there is something different about the literary text they have before them? One thing we can do is take advantage of that first sign of difference and exploit it for all of its worth, for all its richness and potential. For what is translation, after all? Translation is the text we see, the text we have before us (the target)...

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Translation Transvalued

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pp. 85-96

The existence of subventions for publication proves that our culture values literature in translation; the need for subventions proves that I do not pretend to understand the ultimate causes of the decisive paradox formulated above by Vesterman, but I can draw upon my own experiences as student, teacher, translator, and publisher to illustrate some of the ways...

Part Two: Issues and Contexts

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pp. 97-98

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Identity and Relationships

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pp. 99-116

This chapter explores Japanese concepts of the self and interactions with others as manifested in translated Japanese literature. After outlining how Japanese understandings of self and identity differ from these concepts in the West, we note some of the challenges these differences present to literary translators working in Western languages. The challenges are accentuated...

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Literature as Identity Formation: Reading Chinese Literature in Translation

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pp. 117-135

Literature plays a formative role in cultural identity. China provides an eminent case in point. Chinese civilization enjoys the longest continuing literary tradition in the world. The longevity and enduring influence of Chinese literature may be attributed to two causes: first, the unity of the written language, which was standardized by the early third century bce, despite a large number of...

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Identity and Relationships in the Context of Latin America

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pp. 136-147

Latin America is a vast region of the world comprising several distinct geographical areas (Mesoamerica, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean) where the legacies of Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, and Dutch colonial rule have combined with surviving indigenous languages and cultures to create a complex group of some two dozen or more...

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Nordic Exposure: Teaching Scandinavian Literature in Translation

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pp. 148-164

Works by Scandinavian authors are taught widely in North America, and some Scandinavian authors are part of the Western canon while being known outside Western culture. Such names as Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Hans Christian Andersen, and S

Power Struggles

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pp. 165-166

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Translations from South Asia: The Power of Babel

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pp. 167-175

South Asia’s historical multilinguality has become synonymous with ethnic diversity, making linguistic identity an integral part of ethnic identity in the twentieth century’s nationalist struggles. As a result, linguistic identity has become as much of a cause for violent division and a rallying call for unity as religious identification has. Today, for example, we see ongoing civil war...

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African Europhone Literature in Translation: Language, Pedagogy, and Power Differentials

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pp. 176-187

African literature is channeled and received in the West mainly through translations. As a literature often grounded in languages and cultures without literary capital, it has made its way into the international literary space mainly through its writing and translation in global European languages. Vernacular-language writing is on the increase, enhanced by writing practices in more widespread...

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The North-South Translation Border: Transnationality in the New South American Writing

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pp. 188-202

Llegamos a pensar que Am

Beliefs and Values

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pp. 203-204

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Translating Eastern Europe and Russia

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pp. 205-217

Although eastern Europe may appear to be a simple geographic designation, its borders have always been difficult to define. As a cultural unity, the concept of eastern Europe is even more problematic; for, as Larry Wolff notes, “It was not a natural distinction, or even an innocent one, for it was produced as a work of cultural creation, of intellectual artifice, of ideological self-interest...

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Translation of Modern and Contemporary Literature in Arabic

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pp. 218-234

In a foreword to the English translation of Elias Khoury’s novel Little Mountain, published in 1989, Edward Said wrote that “of all the major literatures and languages, Arabic is by far the least known and most grudgingly regarded by Europeans and Americans, a huge irony given that all Arabs regard the immense literary and cultural worth of their language as one of...

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Hebrew Poetry, Ancient and Contemporary, in Translation

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pp. 235-247

The linguistic and cultural barriers that separate any two languages are palpable to the translator who works her way across them, although more often than not they are invisible to the reader who picks up a poem in translation, comfortably ensconced on his side of the border. But when the languages in question differ as fundamentally as Hebrew and English, the roadblocks...

Notes on Contributors

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pp. 248-252


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pp. 253-263

E-ISBN-13: 9781612775395
E-ISBN-10: 161277539X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606351086

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2010