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Modernist Translation

An Eastern European Perspective: Models, Semantics, Functions


Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz

The last two decades witnessed an upsurge in Anglo-American studies of Modernism and its translation practices. The book revisits the notion of Modernist translation in the context of Eastern European (Polish and Russian) literatures. The framework of this study is informed by the cultural turn in Translation Studies and the dynamic concept of Modernism as a configuration of mutually antagonistic and dialogic tendencies, currents, programs, attitudes, and artistic realizations. Along with the analysis of illusionist and anti-illusionist models of Modernist translation, the book readdresses the problems of carnivalization, parodicity, estrangement, conceptualism and topics of translation discourse.
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The aim of this monograph has been twofold: to contribute to rebalancing the debate on Modernist translation from a non-Western Eurocentric perspective, and to relaunch research into Modernist models of literary translation. The realization of these goals required the creation of a new theoretical language and conceptual framework for describing a complex set of tendencies in twentieth-century artistic translation, which were not only culturally diverse and contradictory, but in some cases even mutually exclusive. The starting assumption for this research was that to understand Modernist translation in its complexity is to confront mutually opposing artistic principles and practices which occurred in the most distant geomodernisms. These include the oppositions: illusionist/ anti-illusionist, elite/ popular, autonomous/ instrumental, High Modernist/ avant-garde, elite/ popular and autonomous/ ideologically instrumental. Eight models of literary translation were then identified on the basis of strictly defined formal, functional, and semantic criteria. The reconstructed models were also presented in terms of their mutual oppositions and reciprocities. For, as has been the argument from the outset of this book (which derived much of its theoretical and methodological inspiration from the Prague Linguistic School), certain distinctive features of particular styles of Modernist translation emerge most clearly in opposition to others. For instance, Parnassian translation is best characterized in contrast to Symbolist translation. Mannerist translation reveals its features most clearly in opposition to Cubist translation. The distinctive features of Constructivist translation become manifest in opposition to Neoclassicist translation, and so on. In general, Modernist translation developed against the background of...

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