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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 3: Models and Oppositions


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Chapter 3: Models and Oppositions

The following is a brief description of the models of literary translation in Polish, Russian, and Anglo-American Modernisms. These crystallized with varying intensity, resonance, timeframes, and degrees of admixtures in their respective regions. Before launching into a detailed discussion of these models, some caveats should be made with regard to the examples selected, to illustrate the key assumptions behind the models and the scope of the research material. Firstly, as already noted, the historical comparative material has been intentionally restricted not only to three literary Modernisms, but also to translations of poetry. The rationale behind this decision is that the complexity of internal organization and the semantic density of poetic discourse make it a privileged object for cultural analysis. Then again, poetry is also, in other respects, the most challenging object for such an undertaking because, as Varlam Shalamov has pointed out, ‘the national borders of poetry go much deeper than those of prose’ (Baer and Olshanskaya 2013: 118). This is because the semantics and hierarchy of verse forms as well as rhythmic, metrical, and prosodic patterns are deeply embedded in historical and cultural contexts. The criteria for assessing the effectiveness of particular rhetorical devices are also culture-specific. Indeed, as Roxana Preda has argued, it may be that of all the possible domains of translation, it is in poetry that the separation between the signifier and signified is most stridently called into question, as ‘this is the only region...

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