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Event or Incident- Evénement ou Incident

On the Role of Translation in the Dynamics of Cultural Exchange- Du rôle des traductions dans les processus d’échanges culturels


Edited By Ton Naaijkens

Translations are crucial to the flow of themes, images, forms and ideas across boundaries. They constitute a special case of cultural dynamics as, in a sense, they are existing texts revived in a new form. The introduction of textual works in a target culture involves a high degree of strategy and control. These moments of control, selection and influence deserve special attention in cultural, receptional, and translation-historical studies. The essays in this yearbook address aspects of the central topic: the impact of translations on cultural-historical developments in Europe. First and foremost is the question which works were selected and why, and next which were neglected and why. In a wider scope: what – in the long-term processes of cultural transfer – were the «peaks» or key moments, and of which nature was the discourse accompanying the presence of a foreign-language culture in translation? Why did it all happen like this, and what was the precise impact of the introduction of new works, new ideas, new culture through the medium of translation? These are the questions to which the authors of this work attempt to provide answers.

Les traductions ont une importance cruciale quant à la circulation des thèmes, des images, des formes et des idées au-delà des frontières. Elles représentent un cas particulier de dynamique culturelle, insufflant en un sens une nouvelle vie à des textes existant. L’introduction d’œuvres écrites dans une culture cible suppose un déploiement important de stratégies visant à contrôler ces processus, qui font l’objet d’une attention toute particulière dans les études d’histoire culturelle, de réception, et d’histoire de la traduction.
Les études contenues dans ce volume s’intéressent aux différents aspects du sujet principal : l’impact des traductions sur les développements historiques et culturels en Europe. Tout d’abord quelles sont les œuvres retenues, pourquoi celles-ci et non pas d’autres ? Plus généralement, les auteurs s’intéressent aux moments où l’influence a atteint un apogée dans les processus à longue échéance des transferts culturels et à la nature du discours accompagnant la présence sous forme de traduction d’une culture en langue étrangère. Pourquoi tout cela est-il arrivé de la sorte et quel est l’impact précis de l’introduction d’œuvres, d’idées, d’une culture nouvelles à travers le medium de la traduction ? Voilà dans tous les cas les questions clés auxquelles les auteurs de cet ouvrage entendent répondre.


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Cees KOSTER Non-translation as an Event. The Reception in the Netherlands of John Dos Passos in the 1930s 29


Non-Translation as an Event. The Reception in the Netherlands of John Dos Passos in the 1930s Cees KOSTER As a cultural phenomenon non-translation occurs far more frequently than translation; perhaps we might even say that in the world republic of letters non-translation is the standard situation. From the point of view of a single receiving culture, there are always more potential source texts that are not translated than texts that are, even in cultures that show high import flows. In their efforts to gain insight into the dynamics of literary exchange, translation history and reception studies are almost exclu- sively focused on the tangible facts of translation, rather than on the elu- sive mer à boire of non-translation. To a certain extent this may be due to the epistemological problem that something that did happen lends itself to explanation more easily, and that finding out why something didn’t happen seems a matter more of speculation than analysis. In the study of transnational literary exchange, non-translation may find its way into the study of selection mechanisms, as the mirror side of the book import flows from specific source cultures. One will find it hard to answer the general question which works (authors, genres, etc.) are not translated, if only because of the sheer volume of the catalogue of potential texts. One may also assume that such an answer will not necessary yield a meaningful insight, because for most of those books the fact that they have not been translated is incidental, is...

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