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12. Translation Studies and Modernism

Steven G. Yao

Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780470658734.2013.00013.x


The act of translation has long been a subject of both sustained and varied reflection by a significant array of practitioners and theorists alike since at least the classical period in the West. However, it was not until the 1970s that translation studies as such finally began to take shape as a cohesive—as well as recognized—intellectual enterprise. Such belatedness in acknowledging translation as a topic worthy of study in its own right lends general credence to one of the grounding critical claims of translation studies: namely, that translation as a mode of cultural, and especially literary, production has been incorrectly considered a second-order or ancillary activity, and hence unfairly overlooked as subordinate and even inferior to “original” composition in both creative and cultural significance. This longstanding bias, scholars have noted, cuts across numerous cultural traditions. Consider, for instance, the wealth of sayings in various languages that reflect a deep suspicion about translation by equating it with such despicable acts as treason or infidelity. Needless to say, perhaps, translation studies rejects this simplistic view, together with the metaphysics of originality that underwrite it, as one of its foundational disciplinary premises. Within this still evolving field, numerous critics have gone on to explore the significance, as well as the history, of translation ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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