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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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Chapter 1: The Translational Turn in Modernism Studies


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Chapter 1:  The Translational Turn in Modernism Studies

Only in the last twenty years has Translation Studies begun to converge with the historiography of literary Modernisms. Strange as it may seem, given the widely acknowledged centrality of translation to the evolution of Modernist literature and its exceptional concern for the materiality of language (i.e. focus on the medium itself) there has been, until recently, no framework, either conceptual or methodological, that could integrate these disparate research traditions into a coherent body of knowledge and provide adequate tools for assessing Modernist translations, whether as mediators between cultures or as forms of creative writing in their own right (see Beasley and Bullock 2011: 294). As late as the 1970s, while looking at the reception of Baudelaire and the French Parnassians in Young Poland’s literary circles, a Polish literary historian was moved to observe: ‘Paradoxically, indeed, Modernist translation […] remains at the margins of historical literary scholarship. […] We have little knowledge [of the nature of Modernist intercultural encounters – T.B.T], except as regards “influences and analogies” in the fallacious manner of Positivist comparativism’ (Święch 1970: 199). According to Steven G. Yao, the belated acknowledgement of translation as a valid object of Modernist studies ‘lends general credence to one of the grounding critical claims of translation studies, namely that translation as a mode of cultural, and especially literary production has been incorrectly considered a second order or ancillary activity, and hence unfairly overlooked as subordinate and even inferior to...

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