Comptes rendus

Juan Jesús Zaro, ed. Traductores y traducciones de literatura y ensayo (1835-1919). Granada, Comares, 2007, 410 p. and Diez estudios sobre la traducción en la España del siglo XIX. Granada, Atrio, 2008, 271 p.[Record]

  • Jorge Jiménez-Bellver

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  • Jorge Jiménez-Bellver
    University of Texas at Brownsville

Since 2007 the University of Málaga (Spain) website has hosted a digitized archive of translated texts into Spanish from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This archive is the outcome of two research projects directed by Professor Juan Jesús Zaro, who also edited the two volumes reviewed here. The main criteria used in the selection of texts were linguistic and historical: the archive contains works translated from English, French, and German that exerted a significant influence on both the source and target cultures (which explains why most of them are literary and scientific). English predominates as a source language in this regard, and William Shakespeare, Walter Scott, John Stuart Mill, and Charles Darwin stand out as the most influential authors. Along with translations, the archive contains historical, political, and cultural information related to their reception as well as translators’ biographical information, constituting so-called “ediciones traductológicas”, that is, editions based on and meant for translation research. The chapters in Traductores y traducciones de literatura y ensayo (1835-1919) [Translators and Translations of Literary Works and Essays (1835-1919)] and Diez estudios sobre la traducción en la España del siglo XIX [Ten Research Studies on Translation in Nineteenth-century Spain] draw from the information contained in the editions, providing a complementary resource to the archive and a detailed introduction to the history of the texts included in it. In addition to the 75-year period required for copyrighted works to enter the public domain, the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were chosen because of the degree of social unrest and political struggle that characterized this period. As Juan Crespo argues in his contribution to the first volume (2007, p. 48), the nineteenth century in Spain was “un siglo en guerra” [a century of war], interspersed with only short intervals of peaceful relations. However, it was also the century when the middle class and women across Spain became literate, and libraries and newspapers made literary and scientific works more widely available. The result was a profusion of translations published to further diverse artistic, social, and political ends: translations of works that reproduced the values and ideologies of the Inquisition and the absolutist monarchy, translations published in London and Paris for Spanish liberal exiles and criollo liberals in Spain’s former colonies in the Americas, translations commissioned during periods of constitutional rule that had previously been banned, translations for the new reading publics, and so forth. Periods of “crises” and “turning points” (Even-Zohar, 1990) offer an invaluable source of data that can be used to analyze the role of translation in processes of both continuity and change in the receiving cultures. The chapters in the two volumes edited by Zaro show a marked interest in the study of translation norms (Toury, 2012) as a tool to uncover the policies and ideologies that governed the practice of translation in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain. In what follows, I will focus on the two main findings of the project regarding norms. The first is that indirect translation from French was a preliminary norm (2008, p. 10). As pointed out above, most of the texts included in the archive were translated from French; however, most of their source texts were written in a language other than French (namely English). The second finding is that acceptability was the initial norm, judging from the abundant instances of “domestication” found in the translations (ibid.). The heuristic potential of norm-based research to provide insights into the role of translations published under conditions of political instability and various forms of social control is beyond question. In this respect, the two works …