The Inner and Outer Workings of Translation Reception: Coetzee on (Wieniewska’s) Schulz
Introduction: Coetzee on translation, Coetzee on Bruno Schulz
Already from the Contents pages of John Maxwell Coetzee’s non-fiction writings it becomes evident that their author is remarkably open to and appreciative of literary traditions other than his own, not only prolonging the lives of established world classics, but also introducing writers less known to Anglophone readers. Foreign names appear already in the 1992 collection of essays and interviews entitled Doubling the Point (Coetzee 1992) and feature prominently in Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship (Coetzee 1996) and Stranger Shores: Literary Essays 1986–1999 (Coetzee 2002). In the most recent of his collections of literary criticism, Inner Workings: Essays 2000–2005 (Coetzee 2008), twelve out of twenty-one essays are devoted to authors whose works were originally written in languages other than English.
Well-versed in several languages, in many cases Coetzee does not have to rely on translation to read the foreign authors he discusses. Yet the phenomenon of translation is clearly among his interests. Whether due to his earlier personal practice as a translator, or later experience of a widely translated author, or his general awareness of and sensitivity to the workings of language, stemming from his theoretical background in linguistics, the fact remains that Coetzee very often includes comments on various translation problems in his literary criticism. The most notable cases in point are two critical essays in which translation even made it to the title: “Translating Kafka”1 from Stranger Shores (2002: 74–87)...
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