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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 2: Modernist Translation: Theses for Reconstruction


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Chapter 2:  Modernist Translation: Theses for Reconstruction

It is the argument of this book that the term ‘Modernist translation’ needs to be reconsidered as a plurale tantum referring to a range of contradictory, even mutually exclusive tendencies, programs, attitudes, and realizations, each of which aspires to be regarded as the epitome of the modern art of translation.1 Previous attempts at describing the distinguishing features of Modernist translation, made largely from an Anglo-American perspective, have identified them almost exclusively with strategies developed through avant-garde experimentation. In twentieth-century Russian and Polish language literary translation studies no corresponding attempts have been hitherto made to comprehensively describe the distinctive character of Modernist translation with regard to Central and East-European geomodernisms.2

Special attention has been paid to the key role of the Poundian model of Modernist translation practices (see, e.g.Yao 2002; 2010: 35; Venuti 2008: 164–236; Preda 2001; Heydel 2013: 103–9). Amie Parry even writes of ‘canonical modernist translation epitomized by Pound’s “ideogramic method” in the Cantos’ (Parry 2007: 19). The paradigm of the avant-garde has thus become something of an absolute criterion for assessing the modern in translation. This approach is valid insofar as Western European historiographies tend to identify modernity with the self-criticism and self-knowledge of the avant-garde. Moreover, it is avant-garde experimentation which makes most visible the most significant contradictions, decisive innovations and substantial transformations of modern practices in translation. Avant-garde experimentation is indeed where the ‘Modernist revolution in translation’ (Yao 2002:...

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