Though some Indian critics have been only too keen to acclaim or denounce the influence of the West, the discriminating response of Indian writers offers more complex examples of both influence and intertextuality as forms of reception. It hardly matters. Precolonial influence: India and Western literatures The earliest recorded transaction between Indian literature and Western literature was perhaps the translation of the Panchatantra, a collection of fables compiled around the 5th century A. Led by Sir William Jones and Sir Charles Wilkins, it was the British in Calcutta who, in the s, began to translate prolifically from the Sanskrit a body of texts which would cause widespread wonder and admiration throughout Europe as these were subsequently translated from their English versions into other European languages. For so long merely Mediterranean, humanism began to be global […]; a whole buried world arose to unsettle the foremost minds of an age.
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Links Translating Culture vs. He is also a prolific and engaged commentator on the politics of global English. It is widely agreed to be the case that translation and translation studies have never had it so good.
Over the last two or three decades, translation has become a more prolific, more visible and more respectable activity than perhaps ever before. And alongside translation itself, a new field of academic study has come into existence, initially called Translatology but not for long, thank God!
There has of course always been translation, for almost as long as there has been literature. But the historical reasons for the present boom are probably traceable back to three distinct moments across the span of the twentieth century.
Lawrence not only enthusing about the newly discovered nineteenth-century masters of Russian fiction but actually helping to translate them in collaboration with the Russian emigre S. The other two moments belong to the other end of the twentieth century, occurring as they did in the s and the s when two other bodies of literature from hitherto unregarded parts of the world were translated into English and caused a comparable sensation: from Latin America, and from the East European countries lying behind the Iron Curtain.
Unlike with Russian literature, these latter literatures when made available in translation helped to transform globally our very expectations of what literature looks like or should look like. If I may digress for a moment to touch native ground, perhaps the first instance when readers in English and in other European languages were similarly shocked and exhilarated by the discovery of an alien literature was in the last two decades of the eighteenth century when Charles Wilkins, Sir William Jones and other orientalists began translating from Sanskrit, and caused in Europe what Raymond Schwab has called The Oriental Renaissance and J.
Clarke The Oriental Enlightenment. But those were different times, and what that discovery through translation led to was not any enhanced interest in translation but rather the founding of the discipline of comparative philology, and of course, if we are to believe Edward Said, further and more effective colonization.
As comparative philology and colonialism are by now both areas of human endeavour which may be regarded as exhausted, the three newer flashes of translational revelation have given rise instead to a worthy impulse to look more closely at the process and effect of translation itself. Though translators themselves and some rare literary critics too had for a long time been reflecting on the practice of translation, such activity was, as we say now, theorized into an autonomous field of academic enquiry only about two decades ago, in or about the year In England and in many other parts of the Anglophone world, the birth of Translation Studies was signalled, insomuch as such gradual consolidation is signaled by any single event, by the publication of a book under the very title Translation Studies by Susan Bassnett-McGuire now Susan Bassnett in This short introductory handbook has had remarkable circulation and influence, being reprinted in a second edition in and in an updated third edition in New journals exclusively devoted to the subject such as The Translator have been founded, publishers big and small such as Routledge and Multilingual Matters have launched their Translation Studies series, and a whole new publishing house exclusively devoted to the subject, St Jerome, has not been doing too badly.
My assiduous citation of this select bibliography such as is generally relegated to the end of a paper is intended to show not only the new embarrassment of riches available in the field but also a tendency to push the range of the discipline as wide and retrospectively as far back as possible to Dryden and to Herodotus, for example , so as to give it a more respectable scholarly lineage.
It is all reminiscent of the ways in which Postcolonial Studies emerged as an area of study just a few years before Translation Studies and, in fact, the resemblance here is not only incidental but interactive, for at least four studies have been published in recent years making an explicit connection between these two newly burgeoning areas: Siting Translation: History, Poststructuralism and the Colonial Context by Tejaswini Niranjana, The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization from The Tempest to Tarzan by Eric Cheyfitz, Translation and Empire: Postcolonial Theories Explained by Douglas Robinson, and Postcolonial Translation: Theory and Practice , a collection of essays edited by Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi.
I Before these new developments took place, any study of translation was subsumed under either of two different subjects or disciplines: Linguistics and Comparative Literature. Traditionally, translation was seen as a segment or sub-field of Linguistics, on the basic premise that translation was a transaction between two languages. In traditional discussions, the cruxes of translation, i.
But then the realization grew that not only were such particular items culture-specific but indeed the whole language was specific to the particular culture it belonged or came from, to some degree or the other. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, to the effect that a language defined and delimited the particular world-view of its speakers, in the sense that what they could not say in their language was what they could not even conceive of, seemed to support the view that the specificity of a culture was coextensive with the specificity of its language.
The increased valorization of diversity and plurality in cultural matters also lent strength to this new understanding of language and culture in a way that earlier ideas or ideals of universalism had not. The unit of translation was no longer a word or a sentence or a paragraph or a page or even a text, but indeed the whole language and culture in which that text was constituted.
It was precisely the formulation and recognition of this cultural turn in Translation Studies that served to extend and revitalize the discipline and to liberate it from the relatively mechanical tools of analysis available in Linguistics. As it happened, it was about the same time that Translation Studies achieved a similar liberation from subservience to another discipline of which it was for long considered a subsidiary and merely instrumental part, Comparative Literature.
But this had as much to do with the decline of Comparative Literature itself, especially in the United States where the energising impulse and vision of multilingual European emigres from before and during the Second World War, such as Rene Wellek, had spent itself out, as with the rise of Translation Studies. It was Susan Bassnett again, who had for many years headed virtually the only full-fledged Comparative Literature department in the U.
Increasingly now, comparative studies of literature across languages have become the concern of Translation Studies; it is the translational tail now that wags the comparative dog. Through the s, alongside the rise of Translation Studies, we also saw interestingly the rise of a larger and more influential field of study, Cultural Studies, without however any perceptible overlap or interaction between the two.
The study of translation, like the study of culture, needs a plurality of voices. And similarly, the study of culture always involves an examination of the processes of encoding and decoding that comprise translation. Bassnett and Lefevere However, this plea for a joining of forces has apparently fallen on deaf ears. The clearly larger and certainly more theoretically undergirded juggernaut of Cultural Studies continues to rumble along its way, unmindful of the overture made by Translation Studies to be taken on board.
One possible reason may be that for all the commonality of ground and direction pointed out by Bassnett and Lefevere, one crucial difference between the two interdisciplines is that Cultural Studies, even when concerned with popular or subaltern culture, nearly always operate in just the one language, English, and often in that high and abstruse variety of it called Theory, while Translation Studies, however theoretical they may get from time to time, must sully their hands in at least two languages only one of which can be English.
In any case, while the Cultural Turn in Translation Studies had proved to be an act of transformative redefinition, the Translation Turn in Cultural Studies still remains an unfulfilled desideratum, a consummation yet only wished for.
II Meanwhile, instead of a cultural turn in Translation studies, we have on our hands a beast of similar name but very different fur and fibre — something called Cultural Translation.
In fact, the term Cultural Translation in its new and current meaning does not find an entry or even mention in any of the recent encyclopedias and anthologies of translation listed above. For, if there is one thing that Cultural Translation is not, it is the translation of culture. In fact, it spells, as I shall go on to argue, the very extinction and erasure of translation as we have always known and practised it. He neglected to tell us as to whether, before he became a translated man, he was at any stage also an original man.
But a second and overriding sense in which too Rushdie claimed to be a translated man is precisely what is expounded by Homi Bhabha in his essay, with specific reference to The Satanic Verses. To quote Bhabha: If hybridity is heresy, then to blaspheme is to dream. Since Bhabha first articulated it, the distinctly postmodernist idea of cultural translation in this non-textual non-linguistic sense has found an echo in much contemporary writing, both critical and creative.
As for creative writing, Hanif Kureishi seems to represent in his career a phase of cultural translation even more acute and advanced than that exemplified by Rushdie.
The only difficulty with such demonstrable Britishness of Kureishi is that in the literary and cultural world of London in the s, when Kureishi was beginning to come into his own as a writer, he was nevertheless slotted by commissioning editors for theatre and television into the role of an Asian cultural translator. In this version, cultural translation is not so much the need of the migrant, as Bhabha makes it out to be, but rather more a requirement of the society and culture to which the migrant has travelled; it is a hegemonic Western demand and necessity.
For an even more thoroughgoing and self-induced example of a cultural translator, we may look at Jhumpa Lahiri, whose first book of fiction, Interpreter of Maladies: Stories of Bengal, Boston and Beyond , made her the first Indian-born writer to win the Pulitzer prize for fiction. She was born of Bengali parents in London, grew up in America, became an American citizen at age 18, is by her own admission not really a bilingual though she would like to think she was, and has written fiction not only about Indians in America but also some stories about Indian still living in India.
And at the conclusion of this essay which Lahiri clearly means to serve as her manifesto and apologia, she declares: And whether I write as an American or an Indian, about things American or Indian or otherwise, one thing remains constant: I translate, therefore I am Lahiri Such abuse or, in theoretical euphemism, such catachrestic use, of the term translation is, as it happens, mirrored and magnified through a semantic explosion or dilution in popular, non-theoretical usage as well.
But it is of course the same language, English, in which such theoretical complexity and such accessibility both exist. One could perhaps go a step further and, without any attempt at matching felicity, call it simply non-translation.
In conclusion, one may suggest that there is an urgent need perhaps to protect and preserve some little space in this postcolonial-postmodernist world, where newness constantly enters through cultural translation, for some old and old-fashioned literary translation.
For, if such bilingual bicultural ground is eroded away, we shall sooner than later end up with a wholly translated, monolingual, monocultural, monolithic world. And then those of us who are still bilingual, and who are still untranslated from our own native ground to an alien shore, will nevertheless have been translated against our will and against our grain.
The postcolonial would have thoroughly colonized translation, for translation in the sense that we have known and cherished it, and the value it possessed as an instrument of discovery and exchange, would have ceased to exist. Rather than help us encounter and experience other cultures, translation would have been assimilated in just one monolingual global culture. All the recent talk of multiculturalism relates, it may be noted, not to the many different cultures located all over the world, but merely to expedient social management of a small sample of migrants from some of these cultures who have actually dislocated themselves and arrived in the First World, and who now must be melted down in that pot, or tossed in that salad, or fitted as an odd little piece into that mosaic.
These stray little flotsam and jetsam of world culture which have been washed up on their shores are quite enough for the taste of the First World. Migrancy, often upper-class elite migrancy as for example from India, has already provided the First World with as much newness as it needs and can cope with, and given it the illusion that this tiny fraction of the Third World has already made the First World the whole world, the only world there is.
Those of us still located on our own home turf and in our own cultures and speaking our own languages can no longer be seen or heard. All the politically correct talk of ecodiversity and biodiversity concerns a harmless and less problematic level of species below the human; there is no corresponding desire that one can discern for cultural or linguistic diversity.
Funds from all over the world are being poured in to preserve and propagate the Royal Bengal Tiger, for example, which is declared to be an endangered species, but no such support is forthcoming for the Indian languages, which seem to be equally endangered by the increasing decimation of world languages by the one all-devouring, multinational, global language, English. It occurs to me that no international agency might want to save the Royal Bengal Tiger if it actually roared in Bengali; there may be the little problem then of having to translate it into English first.
In any case, the World Wildlife Fund is committed to saving only wild life, not cultured life. In this brave new dystopian world of cultural translation, translation ironically would have been translated back to its literal, etymological meaning, of human migration.
In early Christian use of the term, in fact, translation in the sense of being borne across took place when a dead person was bodily transported to the next world, or on a rare occasion when his body was transferred from one grave to another, as happened famously in the case of Thomas a Beckett, who was actually murdered and initially buried near the crypt of the Canterbury Cathedral but then, about years later, when the trickle of pilgrims had swollen into a mainstream, moved and buried again within the same cathedral in the grand new Trinity Chapel.
In both these senses, of bodily removal to the next world or to the next grave, we are talking of someone who is truly dead and buried. The many indigenous languages of the world and the channel of exchange between them, translation, may seem headed for the same fate in the time of cultural translation: to be dead and buried.
Translation Studies. London: Routledge. Bassnett, Susan. Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. Bassnett, Susan and Andre Lefevere. Constructing Cultures: Essays on Literary Translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. Catford, J.
Gentzler, Edwin. Contemporary Translation Theories. Lahiri, Jhumpa. Niranjana, Tejaswini. Berkeley: University of California Press. Ranasinha, Ruvani. Hanif Kureishi. Writers and their Work series. London: Northcote House. Rushdie, Salman. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism London: Granta Books.
Translating Culture vs. Cultural Translation
Links Translating Culture vs. He is also a prolific and engaged commentator on the politics of global English. It is widely agreed to be the case that translation and translation studies have never had it so good. Over the last two or three decades, translation has become a more prolific, more visible and more respectable activity than perhaps ever before.
Voodoor English literature — Cross-cultural studies. These 8 locations in All: Citing articles via Google Scholar. You transactoins may like to try some of these bookshopswhich may or may not sell this item. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Lists What are lists?