1st Edition

Translation and Modernism The Art of Co-Creation

By Emily O. Wittman Copyright 2024

    This innovative volume extends existing conversations on translation and modernism with an eye toward bringing renewed attention to its ethically complex, appropriative nature and the subsequent ways in which modernist translators become co-creators of the materials they translate.

    Wittman builds on existing work at the intersection of the two fields to offer a more dynamic, nuanced, and wider lens on translation and modernism. The book draws on scholarship from descriptive translation studies, polysystems theory, and literary translation to explore modernist translators’ appropriation of source texts and their continuous recalibrations of equivalence between source text and translation. Chapters focus on translation projects from a range of writers, including Beckett, Garnett, Lawrence, Mansfield, and Rhys, with a particular spotlight on how women’s translations and women translators’ innovations were judged more critically than those of their male counterparts. Taken together, the volume puts forth a fresh perspective on translation and modernism and of the role of the modernist translator as co-creator in the translation process.

    This book will be of particular interest to scholars in translation studies, modernism, reception theory, and gender studies.

    Contents, PrefaceIntroduction: “Modernist Translation as Co-Creation”, Chapter One: Modernist Translation Writ Large, Chapter Two: Translation and Appropriation: D. H Lawrence and the Fellāh Songs Chapter Three:  Translating “the Russians;” Constance Garnett and Katherine Mansfield Part One: Constance Garnett as Modernist Translator: A Rehabilitation Part Two: Plagiarism as Modernist Translation: Katherine Mansfield and “The-Child-Who-Was-Tired Part Three: Creating a Contemporary Through Translation: Garnett, Mansfield, and the Race to Translate Chekhov Chapter Four: Jean Rhys’s Translation of Francis Carco’s Perversity: Translation as Apprenticeship Chapter Five: An Invitation to Play Translation: Samuel Beckett and Self-Translation as Co-Creation in “From an Unabandoned Work” (1960), Comment c’est (1961), and How It Is (1964) Coda, Index





    Emily O. Wittman is Professor of English at the University of Alabama, USA,and has published many books, co-edited collections and numerous book chapters and articles.

    "At the heart of this sympathetic and engaging study of modernism’s deep entanglement with translation lies a detailed and much-needed rehabilitation of the work of Constance Garnett. Wittman shows convincingly how English literature was transformed by the encounter with foreign works, most especially from Russian, through practices of translation, adaptation, homage, imitation and appropriation that she aptly names “co-creation”. This carefully argued book makes real contributions to translation studies, to an understanding of modernism in its international context, and to the  history of English literature."David Bellos, Author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything

    "In a way the core genre of modernist literature has always been translation, yet somehow this book is bristling with new discoveries. It bobs and weaves around the predictable points of reference and gives us a compelling new matrix of modernist translators: the D.H. Lawrence who drilled through German to get to Egyptian lyric laborers, the Katherine Mansfield who remakes rather than raids the cabinet of Dr. Chekhov, the Jean Rhys who learned the language of the streets not just by living it but by translating it.  These are not mere elaborations stitched to the edge of the old canon, but bold bright diagonals cutting through it.

    The experimental verve of the modernist translators (mainly women) is not just the subject of this book, it is the book’s delightful m.o. Indeed, it is the most fitting live-action testimony to her subject, that Wittman herself writes with a learned zest, a witty brio that harmonizes with the unforgettable stylists we encounter in this dashing book. It takes an adroit and practiced scholar to recover not just the under-studied and outcast, but to uncover the systematic patterns behind individual cases of neglect and misdirection.  Wittman can do that; she knows where the co-creators of modernist art have been buried; she has found for us a rich trove of beautiful infidels, wanton rovers across language and genre. Her argument 'against fidelity' is a compelling and complete case for a new method and theory of translation studies."  - Jed Esty, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Future of Decline