Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 April 2022
Translation is embedded in the globalization of literature from the inception of print circulation. From fifteenth-century Western Europe to a world increasingly networked by imperialism in the early nineteenth century, printed translations are not simply reproductions or transferals of original literary texts, but dynamic assemblies of agents. In addition to the author, translator, editor, and publisher, numerous non-human agents including print and book design, but also the intellectual abstractions of world literature and the history of the idea of translation itself are actors in the process. Paradigmatic examples from diverse spatio-temporal zones including Renaissance multilingual translation, colonial translations in North India, and Arabic translations of European literature in the nineteenth century demonstrate that putting a work into a new language is beset with the Eurocentric aesthetics of world literature and reinforced by colonial regulation. At the same time, it challenges a controlled world system with indeterminacy and decentralization. As literary linguistic contacts grow and evolve across the globe in this period, the praxis of translating is not restricted by prescription. More importantly, the ontology of translation is unbound. Rather than belated second acts of literature translations are co-creations with the source.