In recent years, we have come to understand translation as exceeding the exact reproduction of a text from one language into another and as intimately intertwined with new forms of textual and cultural production. Arguing against models of translation as pure fidelity to an original text, Walter Benjamin asserts in “The Task of the Translator” that translation is, at best, a contingent and provisional way of coming to terms with the foreignness of languages, given that even the most painstaking fidelity in the translation of individual words can never reproduce fully the meaning they have in the original text.1 Far from merely transmitting subject matter or content, a translation addresses the mode of signification of the source text by touching, perhaps caressing, to add a slightly queer touch, “the original lightly and only at the infinitely small point of the sense, thereupon pursuing its own course according to the...
Introduction: The Gender and Queer Politics of Translation: New Approaches
william j. spurlin is Professor of English at Brunel University London. His recent books include Imperialism Within the Margins: Queer Representation and the Politics of Culture in Southern Africa (2006), Lost Intimacies: Rethinking Homosexuality Under National Socialism (2009), and the collection Comparatively Queer: Interrogating Identities Across Time and Cultures (2010) coedited with Jarrod Hayes and Margaret R. Higonnet. He has published numerous essays in international journals and as chapters in books, most recently, “Queering Translation” in A Companion to Translation Studies (2014) edited by Sandra Bermann and Catherine Porter, and “Postcolonially Queer” in the forthcoming volume The Future of Postcolonial Studies edited by Chantal Zabus. His articles have appeared in the journals Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Feminist Review, and Études Anglaises. Professor Spurlin is Chair of the Comparative Gender Studies Committee of the International Comparative Literature Association, and he is a Section Editor of the journal Postcolonial Text and a Fellow of the British Higher Education Academy.
William J. Spurlin; Introduction: The Gender and Queer Politics of Translation: New Approaches. Comparative Literature Studies 1 July 2014; 51 (2): 201–214. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.51.2.0201
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