This book will not offer a history of translation, as this lies beyond its scope, but it will work towards an ethics and an analytic of translation by asking and offering answers to the following three questions, which will also function as chapter headings:
• How do we read translations?
• How do translators read?
Readers may wonder why the obvious and seemingly the most useful question, namely ‘How do translators translate?’, does not feature on this list. Translators translate on the basis of how they read, and how they read has much to do with why they translate, with their motivations for pursuing the practice of translation and with how they experience literature. If we are able to account for why translators translate and how they read, the ‘how’ of translation will emerge organically.
Before proceeding to outline the content of each of these three chapters, it is worth re-iterating that this book is about literary translation. My definition of a literary text is wide-ranging and encompasses fiction, poetry, children’s literature, life writing, philosophical writing and Freud’s psychoanalytic writings. (There is no discussion of dramatic texts for reasons which have to do with my own current areas of expertise as a translator and the nature of these texts as works intended for performance, an area that is beyond the scope of this book.) This understanding of the literary is clearly not confined to the fictional, and there is nothing unusual about this position .
The quality of literariness is not dependent upon a lack of propositional or truth-bearing content. If this were the case then a text such as James Rebanks’ The Shepherd’s Life (2015), which is a blend of life and nature writing, would not be considered literary, and nor would most travel writing. Literariness has much to do with the style of a text, with its marked and distinct use of features such as voice, metaphor, ambiguity, repetition and defamiliarization, to give but a few examples.
文学性的高低，和内容是否真知灼见以及能否解疑释惑无关。如果按上述标准来看，詹姆斯·里班克斯（James Rebanks）2015年出版的半传记半自然写作《放牧人生》（The Shepherd’s Life）就不算是文学，大部分游记也同样不能算文学。文学性和文风有关，和如何独到且特别地使用对话、暗喻、歧义、重复和陌生化等表现手法有关。
With the cognitive turn in literary studies, literary texts are also increasingly being seen as ‘embodying a state of mind. This is not to say that non-literary texts are entirely without an individual style, nor that they do not embody a state of mind, but that these features are more prominent in literary texts. This is the understanding of the literary that guides my approach in this book.
In the first chapter, I will consider the issue of the ethics of translation by asking why we translate. It is possible to answer this question synchronically and diachronically, for our own time and place and for earlier epochs and traditions. I am primarily concerned with answering it for a contemporary setting, and my focus will be on the English-speaking world, broadly defined (mainly the UK, the US and Canada), in full awareness of the fact that this transnational entity has separate national and sub-national faces and concerns. I have adopted this transnational focus because English-language publishing is a transnational industry – literary translators produce work across national borders – and because academia in the English-speaking world is very much in cross-border dialogue, a fact reflected in the business of academic publishing. In broadly addressing and drawing on the experiences of the literary translation community in the UK and North America, it is not my intention to slight the Republic of Ireland, India, Australia, New Zealand or Anglophone countries in Africa and the Caribbean, all of which have their distinct (and post-colonial) Englishes, but rather to focus on those countries where I have spent extended periods of time living and working, and hence with which I am more familiar. The differing national contexts and global positions of the UK, the US and Canada have a significant effect on the why and the how of translation in each one. The UK is a member, albeit frequently a reluctant one, of the political and cultural unit known as the EU, which currently has 28 members and at least as many languages. The UK is a former colonial power and has been involved in several wars in the Middle East in the last few decades. The US is a global political and economic power, whose supremacy has been challenged of late by financial crisis and a changing world order; it has a history of involvement in the affairs of its Latin American neighbours and, like the UK, has been involved in conflict in the Middle East. The US is an immigrant country and is de facto bilingual (Spanish–English) in many of its states. Canada too is an immigrant country; it has two official languages, English and French, with English numerically the more dominant of the two, and this status means that there is a long-standing Canadian Translation Studies tradition. Canada has a significant Aboriginal population and continues to deal with the legacy of colonialism within its own borders. It pursues a policy of cultural protectionism against its neighbour to the south and attempts to overcome what has been called les deux solitudes via a generous system of state support for translation between English and French, among other measures. Canada has also seen its military deployed to the Middle East and elsewhere. When I address the transnational entity that is the English-speaking world, I do so with an awareness of these immense differences and in the hope that this book may also be of interest to English-speaking practitioners of translation elsewhere in the world, and perhaps even more widely than that.
Why, then, do we translate? We translate as individuals and as cultures. We translate for other people and for ourselves. We translate for humanistic reasons: to create a world literature, an ideal that dates back to the early nineteenth century and Goethe’s concept of Weltliteratur, to expose ourselves to difference and other ways of seeing, to allow ideas to circulate because we believe in their greatness or their power or because they are unable to circulate in their home culture.
We translate for ideological reasons: to assimilate and to exert control, to seek confirmation of our own viewpoint, to persuade and manipulate and to make money. Translation is also an encounter with literature, a mode of reading and writing: we translate as a form of literary criticism or commentary; we translate out of a creative impulse, because we are curious to see, for example, ‘what Baudelaire sounds like in my voice, what my voice sounds like in Baudelaire; we translate because we enjoy playing with words; we translate because translation is the most intense form of reading available to us, an experience that is quite literally mind-altering, and we wish to allow others the opportunity to experience these cognitive effects through our translations. Finally, in one interpretation of Walter Benjamin’s mystical essay, ‘The Task of the Translator’ (2012), we translate because translation is a spiritual endeavour: as we practice translation we strive for the divine.
本文只是literary Translation的开篇几段，但读到”why we translate”的部分，觉得非拿出来翻译不可了——实在有点契合伍老师很久以前发过的那篇“我们为什么要翻译”，有关拿回自我塑造的权利，有关保住话语权。
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