Presentation on theme: "台灣文學與文化翻譯 week 1 邱貴芬. What is world literature? David Damrosch: 1. world literature is an elliptical refraction of national literatures. 2. world literature."— Presentation transcript:
What is world literature? David Damrosch: 1. world literature is an elliptical refraction of national literatures. 2. world literature is writing that gains in translation. 3. world literature is not a set canon of texts but a mode of reading: a form of detached engagement with worlds beyond our own place and time
World literature vs. national literature? Comparatists in the postwar era often…held out messianic hopes for world literature as the cure of the ills of nationalistic separatism, jingoism and internecine violence—and, by implication, advancing the comparatist as the transcendent heir to the narrowness of monolingual specialization. 282 Comparative literature as the grand corrective for “the nationalistic heresy”?
What does the ongoing vitality of national literary traditions mean for the study of world literature? World literature as an elliptical refraction of national literatures: Virtually all literary works are born within what we would now call a national literature Works continue to bear the marks of their national origin even after they circulate into world literature, and yet these traces are increasingly diffused and become ever more sharply refracted as a work travels farther from home.
Negotiation between 2 different cultures The receiving culture can use the foreign material in all sorts of ways: 1. as a positive model for the future development of its own tradition 2. as a negative case of a primitive, or decadent, strand that must be avoided 3. as an image of radical otherness against which the home tradition can more clearly be defined. 283
World literature is thus always much about the host culture’s values and needs as it is about a work’s source culture; hence it is a double refraction 283
Recognizing the ongoing, vital presence of the national within the life of world literature poses enormous problems for the study of world literature: Lack of time to learn about the cultural underpinnings of the chosen subjects Lack of time to learn different languages
Proposed Solution: working collaboratively Work on world literature should be acknowledged as different in kind from work within a national tradition. 286 1. Selectivity: a student of world literature has much to gain from an active engagement with specialized knowledge This knowledge is best deployed selectively, with a kind of scholarly tact. 286 Reader should be spared the full force of our local knowledge. 287
2. World literature is writing that gains in translation A text is read as literature if we dwell on the beauties of its language, its form, and its themes, and don’t take it as primarily factual in intent 288 some works are so inextricably connected tot heir original language and moment that they really cannot be effectively translated at all. [another way to approach untranslatability] 288
It is more accurate to say that some works are not translatable without substantial loss, and so they remain largely within their local or national context, never achieving an effective life as world literature Example: 李安的色，戒 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=- 8451962485484717627&vt=lf&hl=zh-TW
Credit and loss in translation A work can hold a prominent place within its own culture but read poorly elsewhere, either because its language doesn’t translate well or because its cultural assumptions don’t travel. 289 The balance of credit and loss remains a distinguishing mark of national versus world literature: literature stays within its national or regional tradition when it usually loses in translation, whereas works become world literature when they gain on balance in translation, stylistic losses offset by an expansion in depth…289
The need to engage translations Even with a major improvement in the breadth of language study, and even with a substantial increase in collaborative projects, it will be necessary to make active scholarly use of translation if we are not to continue cutting our topics down to the size of whatever linguistic bed is available to us at a given moment.
It is only possible to engage critically with works in translation if we can allow that literary meaning exists on many levels of a work. Translation can never really succeed if a work’s meaning is taken to reside essentially in the local verbal texture of its original phrasing. [Question: the problem of misinterpretation/mistranslation or abusive translation] [“local verbal texture of original phrasing” Question: ambiguity of the text]
Translation: creative interaction between the reader and the text Not the loss of an unmediated original vision but instead a heightening of the naturally creative interaction of reader and text. 292 The text exerts a powerful limiting force on the variability of readerly response. 292
The use of translations To use translations means to accept the reality that texts come to us mediated by existing frameworks of reception and interpretation. We necessarily work in collaboration with others who have shaped what we read and how we read it. 298 Benjamin” The task of the translator”, p.71
World literature as a mode of reading The great conversation of world literature takes place on two very different levels: among authors who know and react to one another’s work, and in the mind of the reader, where works meet and interact in ways that may have little to do with cultural and historical proximity. 298