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The Translator- Centered Multidisciplinary Construction

Douglas Robinson’s Translation Theories Explored

Lin Zhu

This book embraces the epistemological and methodological issues of theoretical construction in the field of Translation Studies from a historical and global perspective. The theoretical stances are explained in detail through a systemic inquiry into the constructive aspects of theoretical innovation of the American translation theorist Douglas Robinson. In order to renew and promote theoretical thinking in the field of Translation Studies, this book aims to reflect on existing theoretical problems in translation, trace the translation theorist’s innovative and constructive ways of thinking about translation theory, and explore productive philosophical and theoretical resources of translation studies. This book will not only be helpful to a further and full understanding of Robinson’s thoughts on translation, but also offers a rethinking of how to advance Translation Studies epistemologically and methodologically.


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7 Pushing Theories Ahead: Robinson’s Critique of Western Translation Theories 181


181 CHAPTER 7 Pushing Theories Ahead: Robinson’s Critique of Western Translation Theories Robinson’s theoretical contribution to translation studies lies not just in his innovative translation theories but in his constructive critique of Western translation theories. His theoretical criticism traces the sources of metaphysical thinking about translation and exposes metaphysical influences in contemporary translation theories. Some contemporary translation theories that are seemingly revolutionary have never com- pletely broken from old patterns of metaphysical thinking. Robinson exposes the metaphysical influences in those seemingly radical theo- ries but also deepens our thinking about the complexity of translation problems (7.1). Robinson’s insight into contemporary translation studies can also be discerned by his critique of so-called centrifugal translation theories. Although centrifugal theories clearly represent a new direction in trans- lation studies, they still emerge with certain methodological and ideo- logical problems. So Robinson highlights both their advances and the weaknesses in their approaches in order to further them (7.2). Robinson also addresses the meta-theory of translation theory. He redefines translation theory as theory that can generate new knowledge and new understanding about translation. He argues that translation theory should be as creative and enjoyable for the reader as for the writer. He also argues for the anecdotalism of translation theory (7.3). This chapter will interpret these aspects of Robinson’s theoretical criti- cism, uncovering the theorist’s constructive ideas on theoretical develop- ment in the hope of advancing translation research. 182 7.1 The Critique of Metaphysical Translation Theories This section presents a detailed analysis of Robinson’s critique...

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