Carola Erika Lorea, Matthew Pritchard


Since the growth of translation studies, translators and literary scholars have increasingly come to acknowledge the intense ethical and political, as well as practical, issues involved in preparing, producing and circulating translations of literature. In the field of South Asian literature, questions of status and visibility affecting authors, regional literatures and marginalized populations have been paramount, for instance, surrounding Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s translations of the late Mahasweta Devi or the Marathi poet Arun Kolatkar’s poems in English (Devi 1995; Kolatkar 2005). However, in this special issue of Sanglapwe are also particularly concerned, following Lawrence Venuti (1995), with the translator’svisibility or invisibility and how this may be bound up with either 'fluent' and 'domesticating' or 'resistant' and 'foreignizing' strategies of translation[i]– above all when faced with the 'mission impossible' of texts that present more or less insuperable challenges to the traditional goal of linguistic fidelity. The title of this special issue – “Translation Impossible” – intends to address these challenges and explore the interstitial and contradictory spaces between possibility and impossibility, success and failure, communicability and silence, in literary translation from and within South Asia. How does one find solutions to translating songs, proverbs, jokes, dialect, slang, and political rhetoric or allusions? How do we negotiate translation choices with a publisher whose main concern is the readability and saleability of translated literature? To aim at a straightforward kind of communicative 'fluency' can result in suppressing challenging or deviant textual elements altogether, which may be an ethically problematic approach with respect to the original aesthetic or political context.

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