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Translation in History Lecture Series: The politics of rewriting Haitian translation

ucyow3c19 March 2015

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Written by Joanne Tapper, Translation Theory and Practice MA student

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What can we learn from practical investigations of the relationship between postcolonial translation theory and postcolonial writing?

Translation can never be purely aesthetic and will always remain complicated by ideological problems, argued Professor Andrew Leak (UCL French), as he gave the final lecture of this term’s Translation in History Lecture Series. Consequently, both translation theory and postcolonial studies are inherently political, embedded as they are within cultural systems.

He went on to quote from translation theorist Maria Tymaczko’s interrogation of the relationship between postcolonial translation and postcolonial writing, and framed the beginning of his lecture within the context of André Lefevere’s work, who stresses the political and ideological natures of rewriting: “rewriters adapt, manipulate the originals they work with to some extent, usually to make them fit in with the dominant, or one of the dominant ideological and poetological currents of the time.”

However, a kind of rewriting, not considered by Lefevere – but one that this lecture looked at in detail – was that of authors rewriting their own work. In order to do this, Professor Leak looked at the case study of a work rewritten for an international and metropolitan readership – Gary Victor’s A l’angle des rues parallèles, first published in Haiti in 2000 and republished in France in 2003.

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