In Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie famously argued for the power of translation: “The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across.’ Having been borne across the world, we are translated men. It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately, to the notion that something can also be gained” (17). Rebecca Walkowitz's Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature is a full-throated defense of this idea of gain through translation. Arguing against commonplace assumptions that literary works should prize authenticity of voice over circuits of exchange, uniqueness over influence and collaboration, and finished objects over process, Walkowitz collates a sizable body of work in contemporary fiction that values translation as medium and foundation instead. Doing so necessitates challenging the common perception that serious readers do not read in translation...
Translation and Its Discontents
YOGITA GOYAL is professor of African American studies and English at UCLA, editor of the journal Contemporary Literature, and president of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. She is the author of Romance, Diaspora, and Black Atlantic Literature (2010), guest editor of a special issue of Research in African Literatures (Fall 2014), and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature (2017). Her study of the revival of the slave narrative as a new world literary genre, Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery, is forthcoming from NYU Press in 2019.
Yogita Goyal; Translation and Its Discontents. Novel 1 August 2019; 52 (2): 330–333. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-7547074
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