Translation and Cultural Hegemony in Semi-Peripheral Literatures. The Romanian Case

Alex Goldiș
Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca


In the aftermath of approaches like Descriptive Translation Studies and World Literature Studies, the paper looks at translation as a shaping element of global culture and pleads for the inclusion of the system of translations in the study of national literatures. Its premises dismiss organicist literary histories that have long ignored the importance of translations for the dynamics of national literatures, as well as comparative approaches that reduce the interaction between cultures to a number of privileged cases. The paper outlines the fact that, rather than playing a secondary role in the growing of national cultures, translations have been a major source of development. Romanian culture is sampled as relevant since it has been described as a “textbook culture of translation” (Brian James Baer) or “Europe’s translator” (Sean Cotter). Quantitative methods derived from Franco Moretti’s “distant reading” are employed in order to examine the impact of translations on the Romanian novel. However, the paper challenges the assumption that translations represent the only mechanism representative of the interaction among literatures. The data analysis performed on the Romanian literature reveal that in the case of semi-peripheral cultures, where translations are oftentimes controlled by political or cultural hegemonical relations, the map of the most translated authors does not overlap the map of the most influential writers.


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