1st Edition

Translation and Big Details Part-Whole Thinking as Practice and Theory

By Jeroen Vandaele Copyright 2023
    260 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In the age of big data, evidence keeps suggesting that small, elusive and infrequent details make all the difference in our appreciation of humanistic texts—film, fiction, and philosophy. This book argues, from a cross-disciplinary perspective, that expertise in humanistic translation is precisely the capacity to capture those details that are bigger than they seem. In humanistic translation, the expert handling of big details usually serves audiences and the original, but mala fide translation also works the details for subtle manipulation and audience deception. A focus on textual detail is therefore characteristic of humanistic translators but also compatible with central claims of the cultural turn in translation studies. This book, written by a scholar and teacher of literary, essayistic, and audiovisual translation, endeavors to articulate a seemingly dual interest—on textual detail and cultural analysis—as a single one. It theorizes connections between micro and macro analysis, between translation as detail and translation as culture, thus hoping to build bridges between humanistic translators and translation scholars. It acknowledges tensions between practice and theory and proposes a way forward: practitioners and scholars share ways of thinking—varieties of "part-whole thinking"—that machines can never acquire.

    List of Illustrations


    Prelude and Chapter Presentation

    Chapter 1.      Paradox: Translation’s Big Details

    Chapter 2.      Principle: How Details Grow Big

    Chapter 3.      Part-Whole Thinking (I): First Varieties

    Chapter 4.      Part-Whole Thinking (II): Phenomenal Varieties

    Chapter 5.      Part-Whole Thinking (III): Functional Varieties

    Chapter 6.      Politics: Shiftiness and the Social Whole

    Chapter 7.      Proof, Problems, and Paths: Concluding Thoughts




    Jeroen Vandaele teaches literary translation and Hispanic literatures at Ghent University, Belgium. From 2008 until 2017 he was professor of Spanish at the University of Oslo (Norway), teaching translation theory and cognitive poetics. He has been a scholar and teacher of translation since the late 1990s.

    "Starting out from two basic concepts, ‘big details’ and ‘part-whole thinking’, Jeroen Vandaele succeeds in describing humanistic translation expertise as a blend of microtextual and cultural thinking, thus bringing scholars and practitioners of translation closer together. In times of artificial intelligence, this book shows translational detail to be a key to understanding human translation and translation studies. A rewarding read for experts and students alike."

    - Belén Santana López, University of Salamanca, Spain; Spanish National Translation Prize 2019

    "This insightful book invites us all to think about what translators do and how they do it. Translation changes things for many reasons and, as the author playfully shows us, the devil for translators is always in the detail."

    - Susan Bassnett, University of Warwick and University of Glasgow, UK