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398 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 strange course of desire through and beyond carnality. Perhaps the leaden, so terribly unsexy and abstract discourse_s of 'desire' are sliding at last towards trajectories of pleasure. Could it be that Foucault's dream of an ars erotica is emerging in the most unlikely place - criticism itself, scientia sexualis? Such a 'pornologopoeia' -to borrow Diane Chisholm's termwould be something to behold. (ERIC SAvov) Luise von Flotow. Translation and Gender: Translating in the 'Era of Feminism' St Jerome Publishing/University of Ottawa Press. x, 118. $24.00 The publication of Luise von Flotow's book, only a year after Sherry Simon's Gender in Translation, confirms the leading role Canadians play in feminist translation studies. Part of the Canadian and British series 'Translation Theories Explained/ von Flotow's project is to popularize the achievements of a relatively young discipline situated on the intersection of gender studies and translation studies. She addresses audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, drawing examples mostly from North American and western European sources. Despite the editorial constraints of clarity, von brevity, and accessibility, von Flotow manages to unfold a complex argument about a revolutionary impact of gender on translation practice, history, and theory over the last thirty years. According to von Flotow, a favourable cultural context for feminist translation was created around the 1970sby the women's movement, which brought gender into academic discussions and redefined language as a powerful political tool. Feminist experimental writing by Helene Cixous, Mary Daly, Nicole Brossard, and Louky Bersianik contributed to politicizing translators and initiated a wave of new translation practices, including translating the body, cultural puns, and word play; 'sanitizing' sexist and/or racist representations; asserting the presence of the feminist translating subject; and recovering women's writing 'lost' in patriarchy.The goal of feminist translation, viewed as 'rewriting in the feminine,' is to make women visible .in Janguage. Theories of translation reveal increasing gender awareness, drawing attention to the 'translation-effect' as a trace of the translator's gendered agency in the text. This agency often assumes the form of annotations or critical commentaries accompanying the translation. Feminist theorists pose questions about the politics of language and cultural difference as well as the ethics of translation, revising traditional sexist metaphors (les belles infideles) and reinterpreting 'translation myths' (the Tower of Babel and Pandora's box). Von Flotow mentions interesting comparative studies of existing translations (especially of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and the Bible), which lead to feminist rewritings of standard texts. She also discusses the work of historical recovery of HUMANITIES 399 forgotten women translators. Focusing on criticism coming from both inside and outside feminist circles, she quotes Eugene Nida's critical remarks on feminist biblical translations; Rita Felski's and Robyn Gillam's 'attacks' on feminist experimentalism; and GayatriSpivak's critiqueofneocolonizing , homogenizing translations of Third World women's literature. Finally, von Flotow usefully summarizes possibilities of further research on gender and translation, from the historical-comparatist to contemporary perspectives on the production and reception of texts. She ends with a glossary of key terms. Given the ambitious scope of her study and the limited space provided, she inevitably runs into some difficulties. There is perhaps too little here on translation as seen from 'minority' perspectives, which can be provided by cultural studies and postcolonial studies. Von Flotow's perspective on gender and translation tends to be Eurocentric, which cannot be remedied by references to La Malinclze, one anthology of Indian writing, and Spivak (the latter evoked in the context of 'being democratic with minorities'). The problems of race, ethnicity, class, even sexuality, are barely touched upon as part of power dynamics in cross-cultural translation. It seems that von Flotow is determined to abide by gender as a major category of feminist analysis, the category which for her seems to be fractured only by differences of nationality, language, and culture among Western women. Her illustration of 'women's cultural and political diversity' is limited to Cixous's North American reception and different expressions of gender in English and German. Similarly, von Flotow's definition of feminism is narrowed to a historically recurrent movement which 'seeks to improve the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 398-399
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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