Comptes rendus

Luise von Flotow and Reingard M. Nischik, eds. Translating Canada. Charting the Institutions and Influences of Cultural Transfer: Canadian Writing in German/y. Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, “Perspectives on Translation,” 2007, 344 p. [Record]

  • Denise Merkle

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  • Denise Merkle
    Université de Moncton

This welcome contribution to Canadian Translation Studies has brought together fourteen essays, all written in English, that reflect on Canadian literature in German translation. Canadian literature is not to be understood here as exclusively English-Canadian, which is an all too common international misconception. To some extent the tendency to separate more or less categorically (English-)Canadian literature from Quebec literature stems from the labours of two autonomous and strong associations: the International Council for Canadian Studies and the Association internationale des études québécoises. Rather this collection has moved beyond the binary opposition that divides English-Canadian and Québécois literatures, for it includes essays on Franco-Quebec literature, minority Franco-Canadian literatures and First Nations’ literature, as well as the expected Anglo-Canadian literature. Furthermore, a broad spectrum of genres are covered, for chapters have been devoted to the study of women’s writing, children’s literature, theatre, the essay, in addition to the novel, in German translation. Generally speaking, the chapter’s title gives a good indication of its content: “Translated or Traduced? Canadian Literary and Political Theory in a German Context: Northrop Frye, Michael Ignatieff, and Charles Taylor” (Georgiana Banita); “The ‘AlterNative’ Frontier: Native Canadian Writing in German/y” (Eva Gruber); “From Beautiful Losers to No Logo! German Readings of Jewish Canadian Writing” (Fabienne Quennet); “French, Female, and Foreign: French Canadian [sic] Children’s Literature in German Translation” (Nikola von Merveldt); “Selecting Canadiana for the Young: The German Translation of English Canadian Children’s Literature” (Martina Seifert); “Contemporary (English) Canadian Plays in German/y. Equivalence in Difference?” (Albert-Reiner Glaap); “Northern Lights in German Theatres: How Quebec Plays Come to Germany” (Andreas Jandl, translated by Luise von Flotow); “Low Motility: Transferring Montreal Playwright Stephen Orlov’s Sperm Count to Germany” (Brita Oeding); “‘Two Solitudes’? Anglo-Canadian Literature in Translation in the Two Germanies” (Barbara Korte); “Translating the Canadian Short Story into German” (Klaus Peter Müller); and “Margaret Atwood in German/y: A Case Study” (Stefan Ferguson). Klaus-Dieter Ertler, whose chapter (“Antonine Maillet in German: A Case Study,” pp. 283-291) was also translated by Luise von Flotow, examines problems of linguistic transfer from Acadian French to German and the muted German reception of the translation of Antonine Maillet’s Pélagie-la-Charette. In addition to writing the lead essay that expounds on the theoretical underpinnings of the collection, Von Flotow co-authored with Brita Oeding “The ‘Other Women’: Canadian Women Writers Blazing a Trail into Germany.” The contributors are leading or “up-and-coming” German-speaking Canadianists, Translation Studies scholars and translation practitioners from North America and Europe who treat the subject of their respective chapters with academic rigour. A pioneer of Canadian Literature Studies in Europe, Reingard M. Nischik of the University of Constance co-edited the volume in collaboration with Von Flotow, and co-signed the introduction. This ambitious collection is the first Canadian, and perhaps international, collection to deal so comprehensively with cultural, specifically literary, transfer between nations, and was in preparation during a time (late 1990s and early 2000s) when the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was calling out to Canadians to act as “citizen-diplomats” on the world stage. It sets out to examine how, why and when Canadian literary products entered German-language literary systems (former German Democratic Republic (DDR) and Federal Republic of Germany (BRD), (unified) Germany, Austria, Switzerland) thanks to the work of translators and editors between 1967 and 2000, alongside the relationship between their reception and soft diplomacy. The detailed and generally well-documented chapters cover a broad range of literary products, although they deal predominantly with fiction (Korte, Müller, Oeding/Von Flotow, Ferguson, Gruber, Quennet, Seifert, von Merveldt, Ertler) and to a lesser extent with theatre (Glaap, Jandl, Oeding). They clearly show that translators, whether …