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Chapter 15 - Five Entries on Translation and Loss

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 September 2022

Jan Steyn
Affiliation:
University of Iowa
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Summary

The association of translation with loss is usually reductive. Loss is invoked to argue that translation is either deficient or impossible. In this chapter we argue that loss is less a lack that needs to be remedied, a criticism that needs to be endlessly refuted in a defensive or elegiac mode, and more a dimension of translation which makes the practice integral to the production of meaning. A mode of enquiry which situates loss at its centre and not at its margins is infinitely more productive than modes which seek to disenfranchise loss in the name of perpetual gain. Addressing issues around translation in literature, ecology, migration and the language industry, we want to claim that getting exercised about what is ‘lost’ in translation is fundamentally wrong-headed because it is only loss – the absential, the decision not to activate or realize certain possibilities – that makes translation, the work of constraint, effective and meaningful.

Type
Chapter
Information
Translation
Crafts, Contexts, Consequences
, pp. 251 - 265
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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