• Denise Merkle

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  • Denise Merkle
    Université de Moncton

Censorship refers broadly to the suppression of information in the form of self-censorship, boycotting or official state censorship before the utterance occurs (preventive or prior censorship) or to punishment for having disseminated a message (post-censorship, negative or repressive censorship). In its narrower legalistic sense, it means prevention by official government act of the circulation of messages already produced, or a system of direct official constraints on publication. The term is applied to both original texts and translations, although the distinction between the two is rarely made in the literature. Depending on a society’s view of human nature, censorship is rooted either in the fear that a message will do harm to an individual or to society as a whole through the corruption of personal morality or in the Freudian belief that unless fear is instilled in society’s members primal drives leading to the unravelling of social cohesion will be unleashed, the ultimate aim of censorship being that each individual become his own censor, since self-censorship assures indirect pressure to social conformity. Even the freest of nations seem to find some form(s) of censorship necessary; as such censorship is not limited to oppressive autocracies as Michaela Wolf asserts in her study on the blockage of Italian alterity in the late Austro-Hungarian Empire. The articles on censorship and translation brought together in this issue confirm that censorship, more specifically translation phenomena found in censoring societies, are not the exclusive purview of explicitly autocratic regimes, a position upheld by Raquel Merino and Rosa Rabadán in their article “Censored Translations in Franco’s Spain: The TRACE Project – Theatre and Fiction (English-Spanish).” Although pseudo-translation, genre cloning and intersemiotic chains, for example, were more prevalent under Franco than they are today in democratic Spain, they are not restricted to an official censored context. Moreover, works that do not reproduce an imposed socio-political ideology, in particular translated works that by definition are products of different, often incompatible, socio-political ideologies are not necessarily as heavily censored as citizens of the “free” Western world tend to believe, and what is in fact censored is not what one would have necessarily expected. Jane Dunnett affirms in “Foreign Literature in Fascist Italy: Circulation and Censorship” that, despite preventive censorship and police confiscation, Mussolini’s efforts to control print were only partially successful as case studies of American literature translated into Italian show. She concludes that the regime failed to implement a hermetically sealed censorship policy for translations despite its desire to influence the way readers interpret books. Whereas official censorship imposed by autocratic or new regimes is usually easily identified, the ebb and flow of official state censorship following the strength or weakness of the regime in power, the covert censorship at work in the free democracies of late modernity characterized by expanding globalization, though at times more difficult to detect, is nonetheless, at times insidiously, pervasive. Yves Gambier’s article “Les censures dans la traduction audiovisuelle,” for example, discusses multiple censorial strategies, in the West and the North in particular, from film classification to dubbing and sub-titling, among others, at work in cinema and television translation, two media closely scrutinized by censorial mechanisms because of their broad public appeal. When it comes to the censorship of the arts, dramatic works and the cinema have always attracted greater censorial interest, a point made by both Gambier and Merino/Rabadán in their contributions. Overtly repressive situations, such as Soviet-dominated Poland, invite subversive resistance on the part of translators as Teresa Tomaszkiewicz demonstrates in her article. In “La traduction des textes déjà censurés,” Tomaszkiewicz explains that Pope Jean Paul II self-censored the homilies he prepared for …