The nexus “Austen and translation” is among the most recurrent in contemporary studies of the author's reception and has generated a significant body of research on renditions of the novels in other languages. This essay contends that, however relevant and valuable, this approach stands in need of critical and methodological revision. Moving beyond a notion of translation as interlinguistic and intertextual transposition, it explores the novelist's canon in light of the emergent concept of “cultural translation.” In this perspective, the essay examines such categories as patriotism and national character, translation of self, translatable heroines, and the heroine as translator, with reference to Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. Through this multiple approach, Austen's fiction becomes visible as deeply involved in metaphorical forms of translation, particularly those concerning the transformation of individuals and selves. The challenge that this essay sets itself, as well as any further reflection on “Austen and translation,” is to verify what happens when we take this nexus beyond an exclusive concern with intertextual transference and questions of adequacy in order to reassess the presence of translation and translatability within the novelist's output.

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