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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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Ágnes SOMLÓ The Role of Literary Translators in the Mediation of Ideas and Literature Across Cultures 121


The Role of Literary Translators in the Mediation of Ideas and Literature Across Cultures Ágnes SOMLÓ «What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, / By any other name would smell as sweet; [...]» (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 955) utters Shake- speare’s heroine. Would it really? Yes, perhaps.1 But would a word, a phrase, a sentence etc. mean the same to different people? Moreover, do the names of things carry the same notions in different languages, the same collocations? The answer is certainly ‹no›. Though there are simi- larities, the personal interpretation of any word, phrase, sentence etc., any text, even if we speak the same language, will always carry the weight of individual experiences, knowledge or education or, in other words, there is a kind of inter-textuality present in everyone’s reading; thus «no text can ever be completely free from those texts that precede or sur- round it» (BASSNETT, 2007: 82). In my interpretation this «inter- textuality» does exist on both ends: on the writer’s (the sender of the mes- sage) as an intent based on his/her knowledge, education, and on the reader’s (receiver end of the message) as an individual interpretation that might be enriched with another set of texts incorporated via his know- ledge and personal experience.2 These differences in interpretation are 1 According to new researches in psychology words can evoke thoughts of different colours, sizes, shapes and even tastes. In other words a great number of people do experience synaestesia, a condition that...

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