Corps de l’article

1. Introduction

In The World Republic of Letters (Casanova 1999/2004), cultural exchanges, such as literary translation, have their own dynamics. This paper sets out to examine these dynamics by studying the flows of translations in the global translation field. It is guided by the claim that:

[…] the practices and traditions, the forms of aesthetics that have currency in a given national literary space can be properly understood only if they are related to the precise position of this space in the world’s system. It is the hierarchy of the literary world, then, that gives literature its very form.

Casanova 1999/2004: 39

The aim of the paper is threefold. Firstly, to describe the translation bibliomigrancy (Mani 2014: 289) of contemporary French Caribbean literature to Sweden, that is to say how and in which ways this literature “travels” to Swedish readers. Secondly, to test the Double Consecration Hypothesis (Lindqvist 2012), which predicts that this kind of literature needs to be consecrated twice in order to be eligible for translation into Swedish: first, within the center of the previous (colonial) culture in the global translation field and, second, due to the strong impact of the Anglo-American culture and literature in Sweden since the turn of the last century, within the British and American literary cultures. The third aim is to develop and assess a methodology for these kinds of studies. Thus, this study examines the consecration mechanisms that allow translation to take place from one local periphery – French Caribbean literature – to another semi-periphery in the global translation field – Swedish literature. These literary peripheries are studied from a Swedish perspective and are defined on the basis of symbolic power relations between languages and cultures (Heilbron 1999, 2008).[1]

The paper consists of five sections, including this brief introduction. The second section provides a general presentation of the study, its theoretical framework and working hypothesis. The third section deals with methodological issues concerning selection criteria and representativeness. This section also discusses the historiography of the concept of world literature concept and Damrosch’s (2009: 511-513) conception of a universal literary canon. The fourth section consists of an empirical study of three cases of French Caribbean translation bibliomigrancy, where the works of Dany Laferrière, Maryse Condé, and Patrick Chamoiseau are analyzed. Finally, in the fifth part, I discuss the results and assess the methodology of the study.

2. Theoretical framework, bibliomigrancy, and the double consecration hypothesis

The theoretical framework for the study presented in the paper is based on the “social turn of translation studies” (Wolf 2006; Inghilleri 2005) where the general aim – to which this paper subscribes – is:

[…] to contribute to the conceptualization of a general translation sociology and […] to deliver a comprehensive methodological framework, substantiated by empirical studies, which would allow us to analyse the social implications of the translation process in its various contexts.

Wolf 2006: 13

Translation sociology draws on the cultural sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, which was further developed, for instance, by Casanova (1999, 2002, 2005), Heilbron (1999, 2008), Sapiro (2008, 2010), and Heilbron and Sapiro (2002). Casanova (1999) applied Bourdieu’s theory of the French cultural and literary field to a global rather than national scale. Heilbron (2008) drew on the linguistic theories of the sociologist de Swaan (2001) and focused on translation as a worldwide phenomenon while Sapiro originally worked with polysystem theory (Even-Zohar 1990) and later elaborated an interdisciplinary sociology of literature (Sapiro 2014a), in which the social practice of translation is given a central position.

This currently lively branch of translation studies is commonly conceived of as hosting three main research areas (Chesterman 2009: 116)[2]: (1) the sociology of translators, (2) the sociology of translating, and (3) the sociology of translations. The first area deals with translator status or translator prestige and working conditions.[3] The second studies the actual act of translating – the phases in the translation process, translation practices, and translation norms.[4] The third area studies translations as products in an international market. The current research paper mainly belongs to this third area of research: the sociology of translations, but draws on world literature studies as well. It examines the flows of literature in the “world republic of letters” as they materialize in translation, given that, from a sociological perspective, translations are a function of the social relationships between language groups and their transformations over time (Heilbron 1999: 431). Translation sociology is the part of translations studies that tries to understand, describe, and predict the processes, products, and agents taking part therein, as social practices. Combining theories from translation sociology and the world literature research paradigm increases the possibility of describing and explaining the dynamics of translation bibliomigrancy in the global translation field. The theories complement each other and give the research a more fine-grained model of description than each of the theoretical traditions apart. The bibliomigrancy concept functions as a bridge concept between the two traditions in this study.

Bibliomigrancy (Mani 2014: 289) is hence an important concept in this study. It is an umbrella term that describes the migration of literary works, in the form of books, from one part of the world to another. The term comprises two strands:

  1. Physical migration of books, namely production and trade of books, translations, library acquisitions, and circulation;

  2. Virtual migration, that is adaptations and appropriation of narratives; in more recent times the technical term for the digitization of books.

However, only the first strand will be taken into consideration in this study. Bibliomigrancy promotes and facilitates connections between central, semi-peripheral, and peripheral positions in the global translation field. And translation gives a wider audience to a particular literature by helping literary texts escape the confines of their national borders from which they have emerged to enter other contexts (Batchelor 2013: 100). Bibliomigrancy is in fact a precondition for world literature. A work enters into world literature by means of a double process: first. by being read as literature and, second, by circulating out into a broader world beyond its linguistic and cultural point of origin (Damrosch 2013: 200). As Venuti (2014: 180) claims:

World Literature cannot be conceptualized apart from translation. Since in most historical periods and in most parts of the world only a small part of the reading public comprehends more than one or two languages. World Literature is therefore made possible by translations.

Another important concept for the study is Double Consecration. One aim of the paper is to test the validity and applicability of the Double Consecration Hypothesis (Lindqvist 2012). Swedish publishers are probably not interested in acquiring the translation rights of an unknown French Caribbean author if the writer in question has not been consecrated beforehand by, for example, the Goncourt Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and/or the Man Booker International Prize. The Double Consecration Hypothesis is a specification which explains Swedish translation bibliomigrancy patterns of a more general hypothesis put forward in Heilbron (2008) and Casanova (2002): literature translated from one periphery to another is a results from what is translated from the peripheral language in question to central languages and cultures.[5] These relations are schematically represented in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Schematic representation of the Double Consecration Hypothesis concerning French Caribbean literature in Swedish translation

Schematic representation of the Double Consecration Hypothesis concerning French Caribbean literature in Swedish translation

-> Voir la liste des figures

Literary translation on a global scale is of course dependent on complex political and economic factors. Even so, this study focuses on literary consecration processes that form a hierarchy of social practices in literary translation. Consecration, in short, means recognition and legitimation by the agents in the field under study (Bourdieu 1992/2000: 326-327). Consecration by autonomous agents in the literary field signifies the crossing of a literary border – a metamorphosis of ordinary (literary) material into gold, into absolute literary value (Casanova 1999/2004: 126). And translation is, from a global point of view, a form of consecration. Translation constitutes the principal means of access into the literary world for writers outside the center (Casanova 1999/2004: 126). Translation, considered a social activity in the global translation field, involves many different agents in the translation process: authors, translators, editors, publishers, people in charge of foreign rights in publishing houses, literary agents, critics, commentators, government officials, etc. These agents and institutions themselves also belong to different fields (political, economic or literary), some of them serving as intermediaries between different fields, for example publishers, literary agents or government representatives of cultural policy (Sapiro 2014b: 91).

To map out bibliomigrancy patterns in the global translation field, power relationships between language groups have to be taken into consideration. As Baker (2010: 285) has pointed out, translation is rarely the peaceful linear transfer of literary and semantic devices described in some textbooks on translation. On the contrary, the global translation field has its own rules of functioning based on positions gained from the constant struggles of accumulated symbolic power.

Table 1

Percentage of the total amount of published books in the global translation market for the ten most central source languages during the period 1990-1999 and in 2015

Percentage of the total amount of published books in the global translation market for the ten most central source languages during the period 1990-1999 and in 2015

-> Voir la liste des tableaux

One of the most cited databases for statistical surveys of the most dominating – hence most central – source languages in the global translation field is UNESCOS’s Index Translationum.[6] The percentages in Table 1 have been compiled from the findings of Sapiro (2008: 68-72; 2010: 423) and then compared to the numbers in the Index Translationum (2015).[7] Thus, the ranking of centrality in the global translation field, for the core positions, has essentially not changed in the last 25 years. English, French, and German remain the hyper-central and central languages, respectively. Russian too was a central language in the 1980s (Heilbron 1999: 433-435), with 10% of the world market, but, due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian declined considerably during the 1990s, to 1.5%.

Some other minor alterations concern the semi-peripheral languages. The semi-periphery constitutes a challenging literary space, which has not been taken into consideration by translation and world literature scholars to the same extent as the central and peripheral positions. Spanish and Italian have, as seen in Table 1, changed places in terms of importance when comparing the 1990s with 2015. Danish improved its position from the 1990s to 2015, from tenth to ninth. The rather surprising position of Latin, with 2% on this scale in the 1990s, can probably be ascribed to a worldwide increase of translation of literary classics and other medieval text genres for educational use (see Wilson 2014)[8]. The tendency in the global translation field is towards greater diversification in the number of source languages, mainly due to the decline of Russian, which shifted from a central to a semi-peripheral position before gaining ground again in 2015, with 5% of the translation market.[9] Swedish, for its part, climbed to sixth place in the 1990s. Due to the resurgence of Russian in 2015, Swedish was pushed down to seventh place that year.

Table 2 shows that domination patterns in the global translation field are reproduced on a smaller scale within the Swedish literary space. The most dominant source languages occupy a given position, even within Swedish literature, but the regional languages – Norwegian and Danish – also play a crucial role, thereby signaling the existence of a regional translation subfield, Stockholm playing the central role in the regional periphery. The regional translation subfield explains how a minor language such as Swedish can assert itself among the top-ten source languages in the world. Swedish is, except for English, the most common source language in Scandinavia (Lindqvist 2016). This dynamic also reveals an ongoing literary struggle over dominating and dominated positions in the regional translation subfield.

Table 2

The ten most dominant source languages within the totality of published books in the Swedish literary field, 2000-2010

The ten most dominant source languages within the totality of published books in the Swedish literary field, 2000-2010
Source: Nationalbibliografin [Swedish national bibliography]

-> Voir la liste des tableaux

An intriguing change within the Swedish literary field is the rise of Japanese as a source language, from no published books in 2001 and 2002 to more than 130 books in 2006 and 2008. This can be attributed to the increased popularity of Manga books among Swedish youth as well as the work of a handful of very dedicated translators.[10]

In polysystemic terminology (Even-Zohar 1990: 47-53), the Swedish literary system can be qualified as open, where more than 20% of the total amount of published literature during the first decade of the 21st century consisted of translations (Nationalbibliografin 2000-2010). As a comparison, the average number of translations among books published in European countries is 15% (Casanova 1999/2004: 168).[11] The Swedish percentage has however fallen considerably over the last 10 years, mainly due to the strong consolidation of the Swedish book market and to a substantial increase of non-fiction publications. During the 1980s, the percentage of translations surpassed 40% of the total number of published books (Lindqvist 2002: 36). Since the Middle Ages, the Swedish literary system has used translations to build and expand its literary repertoire (Wollin 1994). Consequently, the bulk of the Swedish literary canon is built on translations. The Swedish literary field thus fits the third category among the four kinds of dominated languages from a global translational point of view, as discussed by Casanova (2002: 8). She distinguishes between oral languages with young writing systems and Creole languages (for example the West African language Yoruba and the French Creole spoken in Haiti), languages with newly gained national status (for instance, Catalan in Spain), languages of established cultures with relatively small populations (Swedish and Danish), and languages spoken by large populations possessing a rich literary tradition, but nevertheless positioned on the very periphery of the global translation field (Hindi and Chinese).[12] In the “world republic of letters,” the struggle for and the accumulation of literary capital is decisive for maintaining a position in the global translation field.

From the statistics and categorizations presented above, we can discern two overall orientations for literary translations in the global translation field: consecration translation and accumulation translation (Casanova 2002: 10).[13] In this paper, the orientations reveal the basic bibliomigrancy patterns of translated literature in the global translation field.[14]

Figure 2

The basic bibliomigrancy patterns in the global translation field with examples of relations from the involved languages of the presented study

The basic bibliomigrancy patterns in the global translation field with examples of relations from the involved languages of the presented study

-> Voir la liste des figures

The central positions of dominating languages and literatures are constructed by their historically high access to literary capital and relative autonomy vis-à-vis other national languages and literatures. Cornerstones of literary capital are, on the one hand, the age of the literary culture and its highly specialized literary institutions, and, on the other, literary criticism, literary values, and literary renown (Casanova 1999/2004: 14-15). High access to literary capital means that the culture in question possesses a well-developed literary institution and a literary repertoire, which does not need to count on translations to assert itself in competing with repertoires from other literary cultures. When a text is translated into such a culture, it is considered especially valuable by the dominated cultures, which do not possess an equally developed literary repertoire. Translation in this case then becomes proof of the high literary quality of the text. In the terminology of Bourdieu (1992/2000: 326-327), this process constitutes a means for consecration of the text by the literary agents of the leading institutions of the target culture. Casanova (2002: 9) calls these translation relationships “consecration translation.” In the present study, they account for bibliomigrancy from a dominated position in the global translation field into a dominating culture.

A typical example of a consecration translation is shown in Figure 2, Case A, when Swedish crime fiction novels, translated into English, are launched into the Anglo-American market. The Swedish novels then gain literary prestige, accumulating literary capital thanks to this consecration. They consequently become more interesting for other dominating literary cultures, for instance French culture. A famous example is the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson in 2009, which sold 10 million copies (Treijs 2009) and today has signed translation rights in over 40 different countries.[15]

Case B in Figure 2 shows another kind of translation consecration, when translation takes place between two dominating cultures, for instance between French and Spanish literary cultures. It is highly probable that the French Goncourt Prize winner will be translated into Spanish and similarly that the Nadal Prize winner will be translated into French. Consequently, the 2006 Goncourt prizewinner, Jonathan Littell, with the novel Les Bienveillantes, was translated into Spanish in 2007 under the title Las Benévolas. And similarly, Eduardo Lago Martínez, the 2006 Nadal Prize winner, with the novel Llámame Brooklyn was translated into French in 2009 under the title Appelle-moi Brooklyn.

The position of the dominated languages and literatures in the global translation field is due to their lack of literary capital and relative autonomy. The types of translation relationships occurring in these cultures is accumulation translations, that is translations stemming from dominant positions and languages. Translation from English to Swedish (Case C in Figure 2) is prototypical example of accumulation translation. As seen in Table 2, this translation relationship is largely the most common in Sweden. In fact, 71% of all published translations in Sweden during the 2000-2010 period had English as their source language (Nationalbibliografin 2000-2010). However, as has been pointed out for Slovenian literature,[16] the equally small Swedish literature is not less creative than large cultural centers, in principle, but it possesses neither comparable cultural, economic, and/or political power, nor equally developed institutional and media resources that would enhance broader and successful dissemination of texts. A less widely spoken language and an internationally less visible tradition are other hindrances to being considered central players in the global translation field.

Case D in Figure 2 – the kind of accumulation translation highlighted in this paper – is explained in D*, which illustrates the Double Consecration Hypothesis. In other words, for two literary peripheries in the global translation field – Caribbean French and Swedish – to meet by means of translation, the original text has to be consecrated within two central literary cultures, the French literary culture and the Anglo-American culture.

3. Methodological issues

Any research project dealing with relationships in the global translation field and in world literature needs working definitions in order to proceed. In this section, the necessary definitions and foci of the study are clarified, starting with a working definition of world literature. Then, the concepts hyper canon, shadow canon, and counter canon are discussed. Next, pragmatic solutions to the methodological issues related to defining what Caribbean literature is and who can be considered a Caribbean writer are presented. The section closes with an account of the methodological selection criteria for the study.

3.1. What is world literature?

In the historiography of the concept of world literature, there are three general definitions. The first views world literature as the total sum of all published literature in the world, the second, as the sum of all literary masterpieces, and, finally, the third classes world literature as essentially non-European literature. The working definition of the present study draws on Damrosch (2013: 201), according to who a leading characteristic of world literature today is its variability. He proposes a three-fold definition focused on the world, the text, and the reader: world literature is firstly an elliptical refraction of national literatures. Secondly, it is writing that grows in importance in translation. Thirdly, it is not a set canon of texts, but a way of reading. This working definition reflects very well the foci of this study. The elliptical refraction, the way translation promotes literature into world literature, and the way individual or groups of readers – within a culture or among different cultures – construct a world literature canon can be seen as the result of bibliomigrancy.

Damrosch (2009: 511-513) further claims that the canon has evolved from a two-tiered into a three-tiered system. In place of a division between “major” and “minor” authors, he proposes a three-level system: a hyper canon, a counter canon, and a shadow canon. The hyper canon is populated by the older, “major” authors, who have held their own or even gained ground over the past 20 years. The counter canon is composed of the subaltern and contestatory voices of writers in less-commonly-taught languages and in minor literatures within great power languages. The shadow canon in turn consists of the old minor authors, who fade increasingly away into the background. In this way of mapping world literature, the hyper canon holds the most central position, the counter canon, a peripheral one, and the shadow canon, a semi-peripheral position. This study examines, from this point of view, bibliomigrancy between Caribbean French literature – a minor literature within a great power language – and Swedish literature, a rather good example of a contemporary shadow canon.

3.2. What is Caribbean literature?

The task of defining Caribbean literature is anything but straightforward. The first definition that comes to mind is geographical. Does this mean that Caribbean literature stems from the geographical area called the Caribbean? Unfortunately, this definition is too vague to be useful for this study and has to be followed by specific questions such as: does Caribbean literature have to be produced and published within this area in order for it to be considered Caribbean? These questions narrow down the selection criteria considerably, since there is hardly any form of autonomous French Caribbean publishing.

3.3. Who is a Caribbean writer?

The question “who counts as a Caribbean writer?” is even more complicated to answer. Does the person in question have to be born in the Caribbean, live in the Caribbean or work there permanently? Is it sufficient to have family connections in order to call oneself a Caribbean writer or to solely work with a Caribbean theme in one’s writings? Is it compulsory to use a Creole language in that kind of fiction or is it permissible to write in the colonial languages: French, Spanish or English (Bladh 2011: 132)? The list of questions can be expanded, but will not help researchers, since the very essence of most Caribbean literature is made up of exceptions and transgressions (Dayan 2000: 51). The solution to the unsolvable problems of representativeness and selection for this project will therefore be pragmatic.

In harmonization with the shift of focus from source language and culture to target language and culture (Even-Zohar 1990; Toury 1995/2012) within translation studies, first conceptualized in 1980 by Gideon Toury, the study starts within the target culture. The revolutionary proposal of the time, that a translation is a text that is considered to be a translation, later described as assumed translations in the target culture, will guide the definition of Caribbean literature for the current study. Assumed translations are “[…] all utterances in a [target]culture which are presented or regarded as translations, on any grounds whatever, as well as all phenomena within them and the processes that gave rise to them.” (Toury 1995/2012: 27). Thus, the Caribbean literature can be defined as literature presented as and considered as Caribbean to and by Swedish readers. Consequently, a Caribbean writer is any writer considered and presented as such in Sweden. A good example of a presentation of a French Caribbean writer is found in the paratextual presentation of Maryse Condé in the Swedish translation of the novel Traversée de la mangrove (1986), Färden genom mangroven (2007) [Crossing the mangrove]:

Interestingly enough, Condé never taught at Harvard University. The presentation also does not mention Condé teaching for several years in Ghana and at the Sorbonne (Paris, France). In my opinion, this is an indication of the Anglo-American bias in contemporary Swedish literary culture.

3.4. Methodological issues

The decision to follow a target-oriented approach to study the meeting of literary peripheries in the global translation field has led us to use an existing website presenting world literature to the Swedish readership, Vä []. The site is part of a project run by the Världsbiblioteket [World Library] in Stockholm. Its aim is to promote world literature – defined as African, Asian, and Latin-American literature – and to represent the authors and their translated works in print and online.[18]

The site is a database with search functions based on nationality and/or geography. It is also possible to identify a specific area on a world map, to click on various locations within that map, and to view the translated authors from that area. You can then click on the author for more information. The information presented includes a photograph of the author, a short biography, and the titles of the author’s novels, their year of publication, the original publisher, the Swedish publisher, the year of publication of the translations, and the name of the translator.

To proceed systematically in the mapping of French Caribbean literature in Swedish translation, a three-step methodology was elaborated: 1) inventory, 2) compilation, and 3) verification. To demonstrate the methodology, I will use the example of Haitian literature in Swedish translation from the World Library database. Haitian writers are considered French Caribbean authors in this study.

The first step, the inventory of authors and translated works, gives a list of six Haitian writers and their dates of birth: Jaques Stephen Alexis (1922-1961), Edwidge Danticat (1969- ), René Depestre (1926- ), Dany Laferrière (1953- ), Anthony Phelps (1928- ), and Jaques Roumain (1907-1944). For the second step, the compilation of information available on the site, Dany Laferrière – the only Haitian author writing in French and translated into Swedish – was chosen as the example. His production comprises 17 novels,[19] but only one has been translated into Swedish, namely Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer published in 1985 by VLB Éditions in Québec, Canada. The novel was translated into Swedish by Tony Andersson (1943- ) in 1991 and published by Tidens, with the Swedish title Konsten att älska med en neger utan att bli utmattad [The art of making love to a negro without getting exhausted]. The third step, the verification of the findings on other available search engines, comprised a check of the year of publication, publisher, and translator of the first edition of the novel in the Swedish library search engine for literature, Libris. Then, an additional check of the publishing data for the writer in WorldCat was performed. French, English, and Swedish Wikipedia pages were also consulted for background information and reconstruction of consecration processes within each culture. And in some cases, the websites of the writers were examined.

These various verification procedures show us that the English translation of the 1985 novel, How to Make Love to a Negro without Getting Tired, was done in 1987 by David Homel (1952- ) and published by Coach House Press in Toronto and by Bloomsbury in London, England, the same year. The data were then matched with the general selection criteria for the study, the outcome of which determined exclusion or inclusion. This paper deals with literature translated from the French Caribbean space into Swedish during the 1990-2015 period. It only considers fiction and more specifically novels, not poetry or other genres. Dany Laferrière’s novel was published within the French and English literary spheres before it was translated into Swedish, thereby confirming the Double Consecration Hypothesis.

A surprising discovery resulting from by the analysis is that from the list of six assumed Francophone Haitian authors, Edwidge Danticat turns out to be the most translated into Swedish, with two novels: Breath, Eyes and Memory (1994) and The Farming of Bones (1998), both originally published by Soho Press. Both were translated into Swedish by Dorothee Sporrong (1941- ) and published under the title Magiska länkar [Magic links] in 1996 by Natur och kultur and under En skörd av tårar [A harvest of tears] in 2000, by Norstedts. The original language of the novels is English, Edwidge Danticat having moved from Haiti to the United States at the age of 12. This reminds us of the difficulty in characterizing Caribbean writers by the language in which they write. No double consecration is thus necessary to reach Swedish readers. Instead, this is a case of the most common accumulation translation for the Swedish context, from a dominating position to a dominated (Case C, Figure 2).

The source text language, the genre, and the year of publication of the translations in Sweden consequently give the following selection of French Caribbean writers that will be used to trace bibliomigrancy and to test the Double Consecration Hypothesis: from Haiti, Dany Laferrière, from Guadeloupe, Maryse Condé, and from Martinique, Patrick Chamoiseau.

3.5. The variables of the study

From the factual description of the methodology for the study, we now turn to actual rather straightforward variables. First, the position of the languages and cultures in the global translation field clarify whether accumulation or consecration translation constitutes the unmarked relation of the culture studied. Second, the number of published titles, new editions, and paperbacks within each culture convey the degree of consecration of the writer studied. This study however, due to limits on space, focuses on the first published hardcover issue within each culture.[20] Studying the publication dates within each culture, that is to say the variable time, enables us to follow how translated literature migrates from one periphery to another. This decision also implies that the study concentrates on the first strand of the bibliomigrancy concept, the migration of physical books. Moreover, literary prizes and awards within the studied cultures are considered tokens of consecration.

Literary prizes and awards can at first sight seem to be the most straightforward measure of literary consecration, but the internal logic of the awards scene (English 2005: 54) is a complex instrument for creating cultural hierarchies. The primary function can be seen as one of

facilitating cultural “market transactions,” enabling the various individual and institutional agents of culture, with their different assets and interests and dispositions, to engage one another in a collective project of value production […].

English 2005: 26

The Nobel Prize, according to Casanova (1999/2004: 146), the least literary form of literary consecration, is the greatest proof of literary consecration bordering on the definition of literary art itself. There is no better measure of the unification of the international literary field than the Nobel Prize – a prize largely dependent on translation to function. The true challenge of the Nobel Committee is to not only translate the languages but also to transgress the differences between distant literatures from a Swedish perspective, as well as the world views and perceptions of literature (Espmark 1986: 149). The prestige of the publishing house furthermore signals the degree of consecration of the author in question. The higher the prestige of the publishing house, the higher the prestige of the author published there. The prestige of the employed translators is equally decisive for the consecration process within the target cultures, specifically the translator’s access to translation capital, that is the symbolic capital of the literary translation field in question, hence the right to define which translational practice should be dominant in the field (Lindqvist 2006). Therefore, it is crucial in the constructed methodology to also study the translators of the examined novels, both within the Anglo-American and Swedish target cultures.

4. Bibliomigrancy patterns of French Caribbean literature in Sweden

In this section of the paper, bibliomigrancy patterns between French Caribbean and Swedish literature are discussed. The bibliomigrancy of the selected authors’ works in translation as well as the consecration processes within each culture are reconstructed. The section starts with Dany Leferrière’s translated novel, followed by those of Maryse Condé and of Patrick Chamoiseau. Each sub-section contains a brief biographical note, a short citation from an interview with the author in question, data concerning the publication of the studied novels that trace the bibliomigrancy, and other relevant information about the contracted translators within each culture.

4.1. Bibliomigrancy of Dany Laferrière

Dany Laferrière grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during the Duvalier regime. He worked as a journalist and radio broadcaster before immigrating to Montréal, Canada, in 1978, after a colleague, with whom he was working on a story, was murdered. He later immigrated to the United States in 1990 and currently lives between Montréal and Miami. Moving to Québec, Laferrière says in an interview with The Guardian, made him realize the value of Haiti’s independence:

It’s interesting coming to a land of white people where everyone complains about being crushed by English colonists. Haiti has nothing but its independence, whereas Quebec has everything but its independence. Rich people here say they have only a morsel of bread; whereas Haitians all believe they own a bakery. Imagine the poorest country in the western hemisphere, repeatedly hit by catastrophes, whose people think it’s the center of the universe. Nothing can replace that psychological liberty. It’s no small thing, this freedom of the mind.

Lafferière, in Jaggi 2013

Laferrière (in Jaggi 2013) refers to his oeuvre as “an American autobiography.” It ranges from fiction drawing on his Haitian childhood to field notes from sojourns across North America. It touches upon absent fathers and nourishing family females, interracial relations between genders, sex tourism, and how to navigate as an exiled individual in the world. The narrative style is more often than not provocative and ironic. He defines his style as direct, North American, without any unnecessary flourishes. When his first novel was translated into English, he told his translator, David Homel, that he should find the work easy, since the book was already written in English – it was just the words that were in French (Snaije 2014).[21]

Concerning the literary consecration within the studied cultures, Laferrière has received several important literary awards and prizes. Table 3 lists the most important, those which show his growing consecration.

Table 3

Main literary awards and prizes of Dany Lafferière

Main literary awards and prizes of Dany Lafferière

-> Voir la liste des tableaux

Laferrière is published by the prestigious French publishing house Grasset in Paris, which holds the global rights to his works. Exceptions are Québec and other Francophone areas in the Americas, as he remains faithful to his Montréal-based publishers, Éditions du Boréal and Mémoire d’encrier, founded by Haitian writer Rodney Saint-Eloi. This decision could be interpreted as a defiance of mono-centric French literary culture (Casanova 1999/2004: 115), a stance later rewarded by the Académie française in his election to this storied institution in December 2013. His election constitutes the culmination of Laferrière’s French literary consecration. He is the first Haitian and the first Canadian writer ever inducted into the Académie française.

Laferrière’s long-time translator into English, David Homel, is himself an established Canadian prize-winning writer and journalist.[22] He is the author of five novels and has translated several French works, receiving the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation in 1995 and 2001. Homel claims, regarding Laferrière first best-selling novel Comment faire l’amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer, “Laferrière’s ambiguity, and the difficulty of pinning him down, was one of the reasons the book was so infuriating – and so seductive” (Jaggi 2013). The novel has been translated to English, Spanish, Slovenian, Czech, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, and Swedish. The number of languages that a novel has been translated into gives a rough indication of the author’s international recognition (see Sapiro and Bustamante 2009). It is nevertheless notable that the consecration processes of Laferrière mainly remain within the Francophone cultural sphere. Laferrière has not been awarded any Anglo-American tokens of consecration. This circumstance alone might explain the fact that only one of his novels so far has been translated into Swedish.

The Swedish translator, Tony Andersson, was asked to perform a trial translation of Laferrière’s novel by the publishing house Tidens in 1990. Andersson remembers how he struggled with the slang in the novel and the Koran verses that initiate each chapter as a motto. He collaborated with a pious Koran specialist in these translations and was worried that the specialist would ask to see a sample from the book, which he found too equivocal for the eyes of the specialist. This is the only novel that Andersson has translated from French. Later on, he worked mainly with English, translating for instance Paul Auster, Carol Thurstone, and James Webb.[23] Andersson is a well-established translator today with a large amount of accumulated translation capital.

4.2. Bibliomigrancy of Maryse Condé

Maryse Condé (1937- ) is, from a Swedish perspective, one of the most noteworthy contemporary Caribbean writers writing in French today. Six of her twenty novels have been translated into Swedish. Her texts are marked by the experience of many different cultures (Kullberg 2007: 37). She spent her childhood in Guadeloupe, studied for her doctorate in France, and lived for several years in Africa, in the Caribbean, and in the USA. Consequently, she has experienced Creole culture first hand and was one of the professors who established “la francophonie” as an academic research field within American universities.

One of the most salient themes in her literary production is the search for “the origin” (Duke 2010: 57). She writes about our need to know where we come from in order to understand where we are going (Duke 2010: 57). In Guadeloupe, as in the rest of the Caribbean and in the USA, black blood symbolizes centuries of oppression and exploitation. Moreover, as black bodies were mixed with white blood, the mulatto started to threaten self-appointed white supremacy (Kullberg 2007: 38). Condé’s novels narrate illusory colonial power and the loss of significance of skin color (Dayan 2007: 51).

Condé underlines, in an interview with Rebecca Wolf (Condé 1999c) – that the most important thing about writing a Caribbean novel is not to deconstruct the French language and work solely with Creole metaphors. On the contrary, it is to capture the soul and structure of the Caribbean narrative. One must get hold of the very polyphonic, Caribbean way of telling a story. This is why her novels mix chapters narrated in the first and third person and intermingles male and female voices. Nevertheless, her goal is to give voice to humble day workers in the field, servants, and the highly educated middle class. Her production comprises 20 novels, three autobiographical works, eight children’s books, and a large number of essays and short stories.[24] Condé is widely translated into English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Swedish.

Maryse Condé was introduced to the general Swedish reading public for the first time at the 2007 annual book fair in Gothenburg. She had been invited to present her novels in Sweden. Her novel Traversée de la mangrove had recently been translated into Swedish by Helena Böhme (1960- ), a library assistant at the Stockholm City Library. The novel was published at the relatively new publishing house Leopard and received very favorable reviews in the Swedish press. The hardcover edition sold very well in Sweden, about 5,000 copies; the paperback edition was a great success, with 20,000 copies sold, well exceeding market expectations.[25] In 2007, Condé was frequently mentioned in the annual Nobel Prize speculations in the Swedish press (Jonsson 2007; Flakiersk 2007; Böhme 2007). The literary journal Karavan also dedicated a special issue to her.

In France, Traversée de la mangrove was first published in 1989 by Mercure de France, in the “Collection Bleue.” At the time, Condé was already an established author (with four published novels), having received in 1986 the prestigious Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme, the 1987 Prix Alain Boucheron, and the 1988 Prix de l’Académie française. Also in 1988, her reputation grew by means of translation and she was awarded the German Prix Libérateur. Three years after its first publication, Gallimard included Traversée de la mangrove in Folio, its modern classics collection, a sure sign of consecration.

If the 1980s was a time of consecration for Condé within French culture, this came in the 1990s for British and American cultures. In 1993, she was the first female author ever to be awarded the highly prestigious American Puterbaugh Prize for the entirety of her literary production. In 1999, she received the Marguerite Yourcenar Prize for Francophone writers living in the USA. The French government also honored Condé by making her Commandeur de L’Ordre des arts et de lettres in 2001. She was also appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 2004. These prizes and honors bear witness to Condé’s consecration within both French and Anglo-American cultures.[26] In the Anglo-American market, Traversée de la mangrove was translated by Richard Philcox (1936- ), Condé’s husband, and published under the title Crossing the Mangrove by Doubleday in 1995. Her husband has translated the majority of her novels into English (see Appendix 2). Comparing the publication years of Crossing the Mangrove within the three studied literary spaces, the translation bibliomigrancy of the novel seems to support the double consecration hypothesis. It took 18 years from its initial publication in France, passing through Anglo-American literary culture, to finally reach Swedish readers in translation.

The novel Ségou consists of two volumes. The first volume, Ségou: Les murailles de terre, was published in France by Éditions Robert Laffont in 1984 and the second volume, Ségou: La terre en miettes, in 1985. The novel proved to be an enormous success in France and all 300,000 copies were immediately sold (McCormick 1996: 153). In the UK and the USA, the first volume was translated by Barbara Bray and published by Viking Penguin, in 1987. Barbara Bray (1924-2010) is, in her obituary in the Guardian on March 4, 2010, described as one of the most important cultural links between French and British literature during the second half of the 20th century. She translated several French classics, for instance Marguerite Duras, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Alain Robbe-Grillet. She also worked as a critic for the BBC and was an influential cultural personage.[27] The second volume of the novel was, on the contrary, translated by Linda Coverdale for Ballantine publishing house. Coverdale (1947- ) is an extremely prolific translator. She has translated more than 50 modern French classics into English, for example Patrick Chamoiseau, Annie Ernaux, and Tahar Ben Jelloun. Coverdale has also received several awards and was made Chevalier de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres (France) in 2001. These two translators of Condé into English are extraordinary professionals in their field. A paperback edition of the translated novel was published by Penguin in 1996, another sign of the high prestige of Maryse Condé’s authorship within the English language sphere.

In Sweden, only the first volume of Ségou has been translated. The translation was done by Svante Hansson and published by Hammarström & Åkerberg in 1989.[28] It was reissued by Leopard in 2008, but under a new title: Segu. En afrikansk släktsaga [Segu: an African family saga]. The decision to publish a new edition under a new title can probably be explained by the previous success of Traversée de la mangrove in the Swedish market. The hardcover edition of Ségou in Swedish saw 3,000 copies printed.[29] The translation bibliomigrancy of Ségou is not as clear-cut as in the previous case, since the 1989 Swedish translation was undertaken with financial aid from the government, thus changing the interplay of cultural and economic capital in the publishing business. The early Swedish translation was probably launched after Ségou: Les murailles de terre received the Prix Liberatur (Germany) in 1988 and thus represented a more or less certain investment in cultural capital for the editors.

Maryse Condé’s ninth novel Desirada was first published, in hardcover, by Édition Robert Laffont in 1997. Only two years later, in 1999, a paperback edition of the novel was made available by Pocket. In 2000, three years after its initial publication, it appeared in an English translation by Richard Philcox, published by Soho Press; 2,000 copies were printed. It was reissued in 2001 by the same publisher in a paperback edition. Twelve years after its first publication in France, the novel was translated into Swedish for Leopard by Helena Böhme, who was by then considered as Maryse Condé’s dedicated Swedish translator, with three novels translated to her name. This Swedish translation was reissued as a hardcover by Pocketförlaget in 2010. In this case, the double consecration hypothesis is verified, for both hardcover and paperback editions.

Bibliomigrancy patterns changed for Condé’s En attendant la montée des eaux (2010), her fourth novel translated into Swedish. In this case, there is no English translation, nor is one planned.[30] The Swedish translation was published in 2011 by Leopard under the title Tills vattnet stiger. The prior double consecration as a decisive condition for the undertaking of a Swedish translation no longer holds. After three translated novels – all of which were very favorably received in reviews and cultural magazines – Maryse Condé had become an established, successful author within Swedish literary culture, having found a faithful readership. This development is not surprising in general, since it has been proven that it normally takes three novels to establish an author within a literary system (Svedjedal 1994: 24-31). What is surprising is that the general rule also seems to apply for a peripheral author’s bibliomigrancy to other semi-peripheries. Another surprising fact is the shortened time span of the bibliomigrancy of Condé’s novels, which is also true of the paperback editions. For instance, the paperback editions of En attendant la montée des eaux were sold by Pocket (Paris) in 2013 and by Leopard Pocket (Stockholm) in 2014, only three years after their first publication in France and in Sweden, respectively.

The same bibliomigrancy pattern is discernable for Condé’s auto-biographical novel La vie sans fards (2012), published by Lattès. It appeared in Swedish translation, under the title Livet utan masker [Life without masks], in 2014, published by Leopard.[31] At this point in time, a preexisting English translation is no longer necessary to trigger Swedish interest. That being said, Célanire cou-coupé (2000) is Condé’s latest novel translated into Swedish. The Swedish translation, titled Célanire (2017), was preceded by an English translation by Philcox, Who Slashed Célanire’s Throat? (2005). Since Condé’s Swedish readership has made it clear that they appreciate her tales of colonial injustices and strong women, the publishing house probably looks to her earlier production for translation, if no new novels are marketed – a strategy to keep readership interest alive. Ever since her first appearance at the 2007 Annual Book Fair in Gothenburg, Condé has visited Sweden several times, participating in book launches and literary talks. For instance, in 2012 she was present for the International Writers’ Stage at the Stockholm Culture House, a literary institution where interesting authors from all over the world are invited since 1998.

The publishing house Leopard was founded by Henning Mankell in 2001. Mankell (1948-2015) was a Swedish crime fiction writer, famous for his character Chief Super Intendent Kurt Wallander. He was also a theater director and leader of the Teatro Avenida in Mozambique. He financed the publishing house with the profits from his best-selling novels. Leopard focuses on fiction, mainly from Africa and Asia, and is an important player in the increasingly consolidated and internationalized Swedish publishing field, where transnational media conglomerates such as Wolters Kluwer and Hachette Livre are constantly gaining ground (Steiner 2012: 29).

4.3. Bibliomigrancy of Patrick Chamoiseau

Patrick Chamoiseau (1953- ) lives and works in Fort-de-France, Martinique. He studied law in France and, upon returning to Martinique, he worked as a social worker for several years. According to Knepper (2012), Chamoiseau is one of the most important living Caribbean writers today. His literary production comprises 12 novels,[32] several essays, children’s books, plays and film scripts. In addition to his fictional output, Chamoiseau is a major postcolonial theorist. He is the author of several non-fiction works dealing with the colonial history of Martinique and the Manifest of the Creole movement (Bernabé, Chamoiseau, et al. 1989).

Chamoiseau’s work sheds light on the dynamic processes of creolization that have shaped Caribbean history and culture. In fact, the contemporary vitality of Antillean literature is frequently linked to him (McCusker 2007: 14). His novels deplore the loss of Creole traditions amongst the Martinican people, especially of the ancient oral literary traditions, which he tries to preserve and develop as “le marqueur de paroles,” the word scratcher (McCusker 2007: 31). What is most striking about Chamoiseau’s work is his extraordinary foregrounding of language. His works are judged ‘a potential nightmare for the translator,’ in view of his eclectic play between Creole and French, his code switching, his register and sociolectal shifts, as well as his neologisms, creolisms, and non-standard syntax (Gilogley 2013: 161).

Since translation from a dominated position in the global translation field is never neutral and always ideological, always potentially colonized or furtively dominated, Chamoiseau has felt the need to explain his four writing principles to his translators. First, he stresses the importance of Creole language and Creole “conception of the world” (Volk 1999: vii), including the ideological and humanistic benefits of opacity.[33] Second, he uses the “totality” (Volk 1999: vii) of the French language. This leads to his third principle, namely the arrangement of language to undermine and relativize its coherence as a “formal” (Volk 1999: vii) system, to “feel it trembling” (Volk 1999: vii) and to open it up to the possibilities of other languages. Finally, writing should “sacrifice everything to the music of the phrase” (Volk 1999: viii).

Chamoiseau’s third novel Texaco (1992), originally published by Gallimard, is his only translated into Swedish. It was awarded the most important and prestigious literary prize in France, the Prix Goncourt. Texaco was translated into English in 1997 by Rose-Myriam Réjouis, an associate professor of literature at Lang New School in New York with Haitian roots, and her American husband Val Vinokurov. According to N’Zengou-Tayo and Wilson (2000: 91), Texaco’s success in English translation, despite many potential pitfalls, can namely be attributed to Réjouis: her being a talented translator; her being also a literature scholar; her working in an academic setting, in a department of literary and translation studies; and her having insider knowledge of the languages, region, and culture. Réjouis and Vinokurov were awarded the American Translation Association’s Lewis Galantière Prize for Best Book in 1998.[34] After the English translation appeared, critical acclaim for Chamoiseau’s work and his international stature as a writer grew. Nonetheless, as in the case with Dany Laferrière, Chamoiseau’s literary consecration mainly remains within the French-speaking cultural sphere. This is reflected in the literary awards he has received, including the 1993 Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe for his novel Antan d’enfance (1993) and the 2002 Prix Spécial du jury RFO for Biblique des derniers gestes (2002).

In Sweden, Texaco was translated by Anders Bodegård (1944- ) as early as 1994 and published by Bonnier. This is only two years after its first publication in France and before the English translation. Gallimard published a paperback edition of the novel in its Folio collection in 1996. The English and Swedish translations were also reissued in paperback by Vintage International in 1998 and by Månpocket in 1996 (two editions, which sold out), respectively. Thus, the double consecration hypothesis examined in this paper is not supported in this case. One possible explanation could be that the Swedish translation was not initiated by publishing house, but by the translator. Indeed, Bodegård fell in love with the novel after having read it in 1993 in Paris. He travelled to Martinique and studied the local language to better recreate the Creole sound in Swedish.[35]

Bodegård compares translating Texaco to the feeling of finding yourself swimming in the Caribbean Sea, without knowing how to swim. The most important skill for a translator is, according to him, to find the right rhythm for the text (Lindblad 1993). Bodegård is considered one of the most prominent Swedish literary translators of modern times (Ekenberg 2014). He works from Polish and French into Swedish and has translated Nobel Prize Laureates Milosz, Szymborska, Gombrowicz, Kapuscinski, de Musset, Racine, Flaubert, Houellebecq, and many more. He has received all sorts of Swedish translation awards, for example the 1994 Translation Prize of the Nine Society,[36] the 1995 Translation Prize of the Swedish Academy, and the 1995 Elsa Thulin Translation Prize.[37] Bodegård’s possesses a large amount of translation capital within the Swedish literary field, which is also confirmed by the fact that he is the only Swedish translator ever to be nominated for the European Aristeion Translation Prize.[38]

5. Results and closing discussion

Comparing the results of the analysis of translation bibliomigrancy of the three Caribbean authors in this paper reveal many similarities in their consecration processes. However, some differences that have a bearing on their establishment in the Swedish literary market can also be discerned. Concerning the similarities, Gallenger (2002: 206) underlines the importance of French capital for Francophone Caribbean writers:

[…] on the literary front France is still institutionally and intellectually the locus princeps. Not only are literary texts, essays and histories published in Paris, but it is first and foremost there that they are commissioned, reviewed and commended. The majority of established Caribbean authors become famous originally in France and the United States has only really courted French Caribbean writers to the extent that Paris has already made their reputation.

Gallenger’s quote illustrates the first step of the double consecration hypothesis. French Caribbean writers are made in Paris. The consecration processes within the mono-centric French literary culture are thus rather similar for Laferrière, Condé, and Chamoiseau. They have been published within several literary genres and they have received high appreciation in the form of literary prizes, awards, and honours. All three are also often regarded as representatives of contemporary Caribbean literature.[39] They were all published in Paris by prestigious publishing houses and they have been translated into English by translators who hold large amounts of translation capital.

Nevertheless, Condé is the one who most successfully established herself in the Swedish literary market, with six novels, one children’s book, and one autobiography translated into Swedish, in comparison with one novel each for Laferrière and Chamoiseau. Condé stands out due to her high consecration within Anglo-American literary culture, marked by the notable American and British literary prizes and awards she has received. As we have mentioned, these constitute important selection criteria for Swedish translation. In the Anglophone sphere, Condé was awarded the 1993 Puterbaugh Prize, 1999 Prix Marguerite-Yourcenar, and the 2005 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; she was also shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. These consecration processes can probably be ascribed to her eminent academic career in the USA, her demiurgic literary skills notwithstanding. Additionally, among her more than 20 novels, 12 have been translated into English. Another contributing factor might be her systematic collaboration with her (second) husband, English translator Richard Philcox. They regularly appear together in literary talks and are interviewed together – but in their respective capacity – in literary journals and academic anthologies. Philcox is furthermore frequently engaged to write paratexts, such as translator’s notes explaining his translation strategies for Condé’s novels. Paratexts are, as Watts (2005) reminds us, an efficient way of packaging the unfamiliar in a familiar costume. A striking example of the latter is Philcox’s three-page preface in his translation of Traversée de la mangrove, which can be called allographic following Genette’s (1987/1997: 169) terminology, as it evaluates the narrative to follow than presents the translation strategies used. Philcox explains that his work was very much influenced by Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse (1927), since its interior monologue corresponds exactly to the twenty monologues in Condé’s novel. Moreover, he finds a kinship between Condé and Woolf’s style, tone, register, and characters, despite differences in time and location. Philcox states that he translated Condé’s novel with the voice of Virginia Woolf in the back of his head. In doing so, he presents Condé as a worthy member of the global canon of literature (the hyper canon in Damrosch’s terms), but one who springs from the counter canon of the French cultural sphere.

The analyses have shown that a pattern in translation bibliomigrancy can be discerned in the study. In spite of the fact that the studied novels were few in number, double consecration seems to constitute, if not a prerequisite, then a highly favorable condition for the studied peripheral writers to reach Swedish readers in translation. Swedish publishers do not seem interested in the risky enterprise of publishing an unknown Caribbean writer, who has not previously been consecrated by literary prizes and awards within the Anglo-American literary space. The success of the studied peripheral writers in the Swedish literary market seems to depend on consecration and success within the Anglo-American literary culture. The bibliomigrancy of the literary oeuvre of Maryse Condé is here a case in point. Her oeuvre initially needed double consecration to be selected for inscription in the Swedish literary canon. After three translated novels, however, no previous English translation was needed. Today Condé is an established French Caribbean author held in high esteem by the Swedish reading audience – a fact demonstrated by her selection for the 2018 alternative Nobel Prize for Literature.[40]

The analyses have also shown that discovered deviations from the double consecration hypothesis in the study could be explained by several factors. On the one hand, government interference can disturb the interplay of cultural and economic capital in the Swedish translation market, namely when certain translations are subsidized. Condé’s first novel translated into Swedish is a good example of this. On the other hand, a translator can personally intervene in the publishing business, as exemplified by Andres Bodegård’s translation into Swedish of Chamoiseau’s Texaco.

To conclude, this paper has attempted to provide a more fine-grained approach than what is usually seen in the system-theory-inspired sociology of translation. It has tried to meet the claims of Venuti (2014: 191):

To understand the impact of translation in the creation of World Literature, we need to examine the canons developed by translation patterns within the receiving situation as well as the interpretations that translations inscribe in the source texts.

Needless to say, further research is needed to reveal these patterns and to test the general validity and applicability of the Double Consecration Hypothesis. However, as a heuristic working tool in the study, the hypothesis showed, in my opinion, an important explanatory force.