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LINGUIST List 25.2520

Wed Jun 11 2014

Review: Translation: Seruya et a. (2013)

Editor for this issue: Mateja Schuck <mschuckwisc.edu>

Date: 22-Jan-2014
From: Roxana Birsanu <roxanabirsanu25yahoo.com>
Subject: Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th Centuries)
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/24/24-3511.html

EDITOR: Teresa Seruya
EDITOR: Lieven D’hulst
EDITOR: Alexandra Assis Rosa
EDITOR: Maria Lin Moniz
TITLE: Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th Centuries)
SERIES TITLE: Benjamins Translation Library 107
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Roxana Birsanu, Romanian-American University, Bucharest, Romania

INTRODUCTION
The contributions in this book grew from presentations at the International
Conference “Translation in 19th- and 20th-century anthologies and collections”
held in Lisbon (6-7 May, 2010). The book contains an introduction, a foreword
by the editors and sixteen chapters in three sections: discursive practices
and scholarly agency, national and international canonization processes, and
selection and censorship. Each paper opens with an abstract and ends with
conclusions and references usually divided into two sections, primary and
secondary sources.

The editors put to good use Lefevere’s concept of rewriting (1992) represented
here by anthologies and collections, with the aim of presenting them as useful
tools for carrying “cultural capital” (again Lefevere’s concept) across
geographical frontiers.

SUMMARY
The first section, “Discursive practices and scholarly agency”, starts with
Lieven d’Hulst’s study, “Forms and functions of anthologies of translations
into French in the nineteenth century”. Focusing on translation anthologies in
19th century France, the study approaches two terms which are often used
interchangeably, namely “anthology” and “collection”, from the perspective of
their generic dynamism. Aiming to clarify terminology, the author turns to the
landmark 19th century French dictionary, Larousse’s Grand Dictionnaire
Universel. The conclusion is that these terms share the same generic status,
which is “dominantly discursive, possibly even literary for the anthology, on
the contrary to the other aforementioned concept” (24). D’Hulst compares a
number of anthologies and collections of translations, which reveal common
features with the original works.

Alexandra Assis Rosa’s article, “The short story in English meets the
Portuguese reader: On the ‘external history’ of Portuguese anthologies of
short stories translated from English” relies on the external history of
translations (translators, translated works and their time of production) in
order to analyse two main issues relevant for this topic. One is a
quantitative analysis of translated short stories published in Portuguese
anthologies and collections, the selected corpus comprising 8 collections with
a total of 140 titles and more than 18 source languages. This analysis reveals
the supremacy of translations from Anglo-American literature, and the most
prolific interval of such translation anthologies in the years 1940-1970. The
second focus falls on paratextual elements (covers, spines, blurbs, etc.) and
their role in the dissemination of translated short stories among Portuguese
readers.

Marta Pacheco Pinto’s contribution, “Cancioneiro Chinez: The first Portuguese
anthology of classical Chinese poetry”, treats Antonio Feijo’s translation of
“Cancioneiro Chinez” and the impact of this translation on Portuguese
literature, as well as the translator’s approach to the source text. The
metatextual level considered by Pinto -- such as front cover, collection title
and preface -- highlights how much “Cancioneiro Chinez” owes to 19th century
translation practice: the word “translation” is hardly anywhere to be found,
thus blurring the line between the translator and the original writer; the
Preface is in French and not in Portuguese, suggesting the expected education
level of the target readership. The author stresses that although in terms of
critical reception Feijo’s endeavour faced surprising neglect, it can be
appreciated for introducing aliterary production of a geographically remote
culture to Portuguese readers.

Martha P.Y. Cheung’s “Academic navel gazing? Playing the game up front? Pages
from the notebook of a translation anthologist” deals with a personal project
of the author, the creation of an anthology in English of various Chinese
texts on translation. She establishes a parallelism between the West and “the
rest” in the globalization age, which clarifies her position as a postcolonial
researcher attempting to make her voice heard in Translation Studies. Her
project deals with the classical paradigm of identity constructed on the
duality Self/Other, Self being understood both as her personal identity, and
her identity as a representative of Chineseness. Her paper provides a good
starting point for a debate centring on the transfer of cultural identity.

“Las antologias sobre la traducción en la Peninsula Iberica: Revisión critica”
by José Antonio Sabio Pinilla presents fourteen anthologies of texts on
translation published in Spain, 1987-2009. Pinilla demonstrates that the
publication of these anthologies coincides with the institutionalisation of
translation studies in the academic world, their purpose being primarily to
assist students and researchers in the field. Analysing paratextual elements
such as titles, introductions and prefaces, the author makes insightful
observations referring to the type of anthologies, criteria underlying the
selection of representative texts, the compilers’ target readership and
objective, as well as the approach to the discourse on translation across time
and space.

The second section, “National and international canonization processes”, opens
with “Poetry anthologies as Weltliteratur projects” by Ana Maria Bernando. She
analyses four anthologies of world poetry, two Portuguese and two German,
aimed at finding representations of the concept of “world literature” and of
emphasising the role played by translation as a tool of cultural transfer.
Bernardo addresses issues such as the compilers’ approach to the cultures
represented in the anthologies, the principles governing the selection process
(chronology, topic, focus on a particular time period, genre, etc.), or
self-representation, meaning the inclusion of the compiler’s own national
literature.

“Publishing translated literature in late 19th century Portugal: The case of
David Corazzi’s catalogue (1906)” presents an interdisciplinary approach
blending principles of Translation Studies and tenets of book history and
reading. João Almeida Flor offers a case study of a 19th century Portuguese
publisher’s catalogue aimed at understanding book market conditions of the
epoch, and how they impacted translation policy in terms of author selection,
translation norms and representation of literary genres. The analysis of David
Corazzi’s catalogue reveals a balance between national productions and foreign
literatures. In an obvious attempt to avoid commercial risks, Portuguese
literature was represented by celebrated names already familiar to the
Portuguese readership. Regarding the geographical distribution of translated
works, besides those from French which dominated, Flor shows that German,
Anglo-American and Spanish literatures were modestly represented, while
Eastern European letters were hardly represented.

Vanessa Castagna’s “Short stories from foreign literatures in Portugalia’s
series Antologias Universais” discusses a series of anthologies published by
Portugalia Editora during the years 1940-1960. The article examines the main
features of these anthologies, focusing particularly on their general
structure (preface, bio-bibliographical note on authors, contents), the series
organisation according to three main coordinates (author nationality,
language, and sub-genre of short stories), and their key characteristics such
as criteria for author/work selection and translations made by famous
Portuguese writers. Castaga also mentions the important role assigned to
translators, as well as the importance of paratextual items such as prefaces,
which were often genuine documents of literary criticism.

In “Patterns in the external history of Portuguese collections with
translations of Polish literature (1855-2009): An exploratory case study”,
Hanna Piȩta sets out to identify the representation of Polish literature in
Portuguese collections and how they contributed to the canonisation of Polish
writers. Since Piȩta’s interest is mainly in the external history of such
translations, she provides accurate and detailed accounts of number of
translated volumes, their distribution among publishers, pace of translation
production from Polish, and even fluctuations of the translation flow.

Against the background of Orientalism in Portugal, Teresa Seruya’s
“Extra-European literatures in anthology during the Estado Novo” focuses on
short story anthologies translated from Indian, Chinese and Japanese from 1933
to 1974. Seruya’s research reveals that the interest of the Portuguese in
Orientalism at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th
century was almost inexistent, despite the existence of “direct sources of
cultural information about China and Japan” (175). The comparative analysis of
these anthologies indicates a common set of features: their limited
representation, which suggests the publishers and the public’s weak interest
in such publications; that most of them were indirect translations from the
above-mentioned languages, and followed the same trend, tending to
universalise to the extreme the otherness of the represented cultures.

The third and last section starts with Patricia Anne Odber de Baubeta’s
“Children’s literature in translation: Treachery and double crossings? Or: You
can’t judge a book by its cover”, which undertakes a comparative analysis of a
collection of short story anthologies, Série 15, in its French, Spanish,
Italian and Portuguese versions. The analysis identifies relatively similar
patterns of publication in all the above-mentioned countries, in which
publishers opted for a mixture of translations and original productions
commissioned to national authors known to write for children. Baubeta stresses
that in Portugal, in particular, this collection filled a void in the domestic
literary system, which lacked extensive writings for children and teenagers.
Also focusing on the Portuguese versions, the author concludes that although
translators did not adopt a domesticating orientation, they tended to favour
“readability of the text in the target language” (196), their main concern
being to make texts as accessible as possible to young readers.

In “Translating German poetry into French under the Occupation: The example of
R. Lasne’s and G. Rabuse’s anthology (1943)”, Christine Lombez compares two
anthologies of German poetry translated into French for the purpose of
detecting how they fulfilled the target of German cultural offensive in
France. One of the anthologies included authors loyal to the National
Socialist regime. This publication was deemed by many as a form of treason,
and another collection was devised, this time with poets not covered in the
former anthology. Lombez concludes that, surprisingly, despite the generally
negative reception of the former anthology, it was reedited several times,
with necessary excision of paratextual elements that were visible elements of
Nazi propaganda.

In “The reception of science fiction and horror story anthologies in the last
years of Francoist Spain: Censoring aliens and monsters in translation”,
Cristina Gómez Castro shows that science fiction and horror story anthologies
were allowed by the Franco regime as a form of cheap mass entertainment.
Castro further discusses that although the censorship mechanism in the
seventies was not as active as it was at the beginning of the regime,
anthologies were still reviewed by censorship boards, which paid particular
attention to sexual references or improper language. The censors mostly
interfered with the texts under the form of cuts or by resorting to a
procedure called Official or Administrative Silence, in which responsibility
was passed on to the publishing house. The paper shows that before the texts
reached the censorship boards, translators were operating their own
modification of source texts, domesticating and adjusting them so as to comply
with the governing morals of Francoist Spain.

Continuing the discourse on translations during the Spanish Francoist regime,
Carmen Camus-Camus, in “Censored discourse in anthologies and collections of
the Far West”, approaches another marginal form of the literary canon, i.e.
Far West narratives. She claims that due to the regime’s aversion to
translations and the focus on national materials, Spanish authors were
encouraged to write in the vein of North American Western writers, with
obvious changes to the genre poetics due to their Spanish transplantation, the
result being often “a mere pastiche or caricature of the hallowed American
Western” (230). Camus specifies that although domestic Western productions
were favoured, translations were also published, and despite the fact that
censorship was milder in their case, translators resorted to self-censorship,
adjusting source texts in order to meet the criterion of acceptability to the
detriment of adequacy.

Ibon Uribarri Zenekorta’s article “Philosophical collections, translation and
censorship: The role of collections in the reception of modern philosophy in
19th and 20th century Spain” centres on religious censorship in Spain, where
the Church, in defence of its conservative values, opposed the dissemination
of any innovative ideas. Philosophical works represented such agents of
innovation and, as such, their translation was strictly controlled and, where
possible, outright forbidden. Zenekorta shows that those interested in
introducing these works to Spanish readers had to set up their own publishing
houses or journals to accommodate modern European scientific and philosophic
thinking. They managed to publish philosophical texts translated mainly from
English and German, despite the efforts of the authorities to discourage such
endeavours by resorting to various forms of sabotage, such as negative
reception and criticism.

The reception of British literature during two dictatorial regimes, Socialism
in Hungary and Estado Novo in Portugal, is analysed by Zsófia Gombár in
“Translation anthologies and British literature in Portugal and Hungary
between 1949 and 1974”. The author’s research reveals completely different
attitudes to literature in the two countries. The Portuguese regime seems to
have ignored the propagandistic potential of literature, which is visible in
the somewhat lenient attitude of the censors towards translated literature. On
the other hand, Socialist Hungarian authorities relied heavily on literature
to disseminate and spread Socialist ideas. This different interest in
literature is also accounted for by the fact that Salazar’s regime intended to
keep the people as ignorant as possible, which explains the preference for
translations of non-canonical literary works. At the other pole, the Hungarian
Socialists’ cultural agenda included the education of the masses, but only
allowed the publication of well-established classical authors, whose ideas
could hardly question the Socialist doctrine.

The book ends with notes on contributors and a very useful index of names and
subjects.

EVALUATION
“Translation in Anthologies and Collections (19th and 20th centuries)” has
the great merit of approaching a field of research which has been largely
ignored or poorly explored so far, i.e. anthologies. Long considered marginal,
and, as such, underresearched by scholars, anthologies are studied from
various stands and in distinct historical, cultural and literary contexts. The
approach is all the more original and useful since it studies anthologies from
a translation perspective. The editors’ purpose of presenting anthologies as
“spaces for intercultural encounters, forms of creative rewriting, as domestic
offers of a partial canon for a given area of a foreign culture, be it an
author, nation, literary genre, specific domain or other” (Foreword, viii) is
fully achieved, considering that the contributions cover a wide range of
literary genres, intercultural perspectives and transnational translation and
editorial policies.

The three sections are well-structured and balanced in terms of number of
articles included in each section, and thematic coherence. The abstracts
preceding each paper create clear expectations about the content. The
references are well-documented, updated and relevant for the topics treated,
most useful for any further research readers may be interested in pursuing.

The volume addresses a wide target readership not confined to translation
studies scholars and students, since it opens avenues to interdisciplinary
approaches including comparative literature, reception studies,
historiography, censorship, and philosophy. It is particularly useful for
researchers whose interests are mostly in Spanish and Portuguese literatures,
since thirteen of sixteen chapters treat to these two geographical areas. In
fact, this would be a drawback of the book, the somewhat limited range of
national literatures considered for study, one not noted anywhere in the
introduction or foreword. On the other hand, this topographical localisation
provides coherence to the anthology, together with the general methodological
lines displayed by the various papers that mainly follow the principles of
Descriptive Translation studies, most articles focusing, when referring to
translations, on the target products and not on the source texts.

Although the volume is in English, which clearly suggests that it addresses
English-speaking readers, a few quotations are given in their source language
(see the quotation in German in the Introduction, p. 4, or those in French
abounding in d’Hulst’s paper). In addition, José Antonio Sabio Pinilla’s study
is in Spanish; only the abstract is in English. Pinilla’s contribution is
highly interesting, and it is unfortunate that readers who do not know Spanish
will not be able to read the chapter. Editorial control also seems to have
been negligent in certain situations, where the papers (for instance, Vanessa
Castagna’s case) would have benefited from more thorough proofreading in terms
of grammar and comprehensiveness.

Given the fact that anthologies have not been extensively studied so far in
Translation Studies, they represent a fertile field for further research.
Viable research paths are suggested not only by the editors in their
introduction, but also by the contributors, who make recommendations for
intriguing and exciting new avenues to pursue. The editors are to be thanked
for bringing to the fore a neglected area of research in Translation Studies,
thus enriching the bibliography on the topic, and broadening scholarly work on
anthologies in terms of translations.

REFERENCES
Bassnett, Susan. 1991. Translation Studies. London & New York: Routledge.

Gentzler, Edwin. 1993. Contemporary Translation Theories. London & New York:
Routledge.

Lefevere, André. 1992. Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary
Frame. London and New York: Routledge.


ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Roxana Bîrsanu is an Assistant Lecturer currently teaching English for
Specific Purposes in Bucharest, Romania. She holds a PhD in Translation
Studies from the University of Salamanca, Spain. Her research interests center
mainly on Romanian translations from modernist Anglo-American literature,
translation norms in the Romanian literary system, and intercultural
communication. She has published numerous translations of French and English
works, fiction and non-fiction, and has co-authored textbooks on general and
business communication in English.
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