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Abstract

This paper analyzes the factors that trigger or hinder the circulation of literary works beyond their geographic and cultural borders, i.e. participating in the mechanisms of the production of World Literature. For the sake of analysis, these factors can be classified into four categories: political (or more broadly ideological), economic, cultural and social. Being embodied by institutions and by individual agents, these factors can support or contradict one another, thus causing tensions and struggles. This paper ends with reflections on the two opposite tendencies that characterize the transnational literary field: isomorphism and the differentiation logics.
      
      

How Do Literary Works Cross Borders (or Not)?
A Sociological Approach to World Literature
 
        

Abstract
             
           
              
          
            
           
           
      
Keywords
           
     
            
           
         
             
            
            
           

            
          
         
 
      
           
           
            
         
       
        
            
         
      
          
           
             
        
        
              
           
         
            
           
            
         
             
 
            
         
            
          
             
           
           
            
           
           
           
            
         
           
         
       
          
        
      
          
       
Political Factors
           
           
              
         
             
            
          
 
         
          
            
         
           
           
             
            
           
            
           
             
           
           
              
            
         
             
           
             
          
    
        
          
          
            
 
      
            
           
            
          
          
          
          
         
          
            
          
            
          
       
           
          
            
           
           
             
           
             
          
           
             
           
             
          
          
           
             
            
          
           
          

        
      
Economic Factors: The Logics of the Market
            
         
              
           
          
          
            
          
            
        
           
         
          
         
    
           
          
         
          
            
          
 
           
          
           
            
           
          
            
             
            
              
             
          
            
            
           
              
 
      
         
           
            
           
             
               
  
          
              
          
           
           
         
          
           
             
      
            
               
           
            
            
             
             
           
            
              
            
              
              
           
        
           
             
             
            

   
       
      
         
            
            
          
             
         
            
         
           
      
          
            
           
             
           

         
             
           
            
           
           
          
           
          
               
                
   
           
         
        
             
           
            
         
          
 
         
           
          
 
      
           
           
             
          
             
         
           
  
            
           
            
          
           
              
           
            
         
            
            
         

Cultural Factors
           
         
            
            
           
              
            
          
            
            
            
        
         
          
            
        
      
            
           
           
          
           
         
          
            
        
            
           
             
           
         
            
            
        
         
           
           
           
             
           
          
            
              
             
              
       
          
           
              
           
              

         
            
             
         
 
      
         
             
 
     
          
         
             
           
            
          
           
             
            
       
           
           
         
           
         
         
            
               
        
             
          
           
          
          
           
       
Social Factors
            
             
           
             
             
        
      
            
          
            
            
              
          
         
            
          
             
            
            
           

        
          
        
            
             
           
            
          
        
          
            
          
             
       
              
          
         
           
          
          
          
           

          
             
            
 
      
              
             
            
             
            
          
            
           
            
              
            
         
         
            
         
  
           
           
           
           
          

Conclusion
             
            
           
           
          
         
        
           
               
            
         
         
             
        
        
      
        
        
           
         
             
          
           
           
        
           
            
          
           
          
           
          

           
           
         
         
             
             
          
            
          
           
          
            
          
          
           
            
         
           
         
           
         
          
         
 
      
         
        
           
     
Works Cited
         
      
          
 
             
      
            
     
              
       
           
          
   
         
    
          
  
           
    
          

            
       
   
            
        
          
    
      
         
          
    
        
      
           
        
           
          
         

         

           
     
         
     
           
           
 
             
      
            
    
          
 
         
            
 
           
      
          
        
             
     
           

         
            
 
            
         
    
            
         
 
      
            
             
         
      
           
        
              
    
         
            
           
    
        
          
         
  
          
      
... Since the "sociological turn", the object of study in literary translation research has expanded beyond the textual to examine literary translators and their labour within the contexts that they work. By applying sociological frameworks such as the Bourdieusian sociology of cultural production, scholars have demonstrated the fruitfulness of examining the roles played by translators in the movement of literary texts between languages and cultures and their positions within the fields of power that govern these processes (Sapiro, 2008;2016). In doing so, sociological investigations into the agency, habitus and role of literary translators have echoed calls within the discipline more broadly to refocus our attention on the figure of the translator within translation studies (e.g. ...
Research
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This special issue seeks to bridge the gap between sociological approaches in translation studies and other fields such as publishing studies and book history, whilst continuing steps towards understanding the relationships between humans and digital contexts seen in the work of scholars such as Cronin (2012) and Desjardins et al. (2021). Prospective authors should submit abstracts for their proposed papers (400-500 words, excluding references) to literarytranslatorspecialissue@gmail.com by 31 October 2022.
... broader (political) interests, and translation, the primary mode through which the literatures of Europe circulate across linguistic borders. Both are important techniques in translation publishing, an area of the publishing industry where economic interests have become dominant but where symbolic, cultural, and political interests remain very much in play (Sapiro 2016). We zero in on the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) as a case in point. ...
Article
In this paper, I focus on how major fiction publishers renegotiate the art/commerce balance in the contemporary Czech literary field and I discuss their strategies in terms of conservative and progressive variants of rules of art and rules of commerce. I show that Czech publishers face many similar challenges known from the global literary field: they feel the field is getting faster, tighter, and more money-driven. Their responses still may be specific given the differences in historical development and culture they act within. In these conditions, new aspects of shifting literary rules may emerge. Thus, the paper contributes to the discussion on the shifting and blending rules in literary fields nowadays. The study is based on Bourdieu's theoretical model of the literary field and works with 24 semi-structured interviews with publishing professionals from houses that produce fiction of various types – highbrow, commercial, Czech, and translated – and that are of sizes from small to mid-sized to large. The research was conducted from 2010-16.
Article
This paper examines the history, political background, and literary aesthetics of Turkey’s newly inaugurated Necip Fazıl Cultural Prize and the Istanbul Publishing Fellowship Program to examine how the Turkish government instrumentalizes literature to contest Turkish cultural values and identity. Describing the current need to advance Turkish culture and literature as “important a matter of survival as the fight against terror,” Erdoğan has increasingly emphasized cultural power in recent years as a means of cultivating and promoting his regime’s local and pious version of Turkishness. This paper explores how literary prizes and publishing programs partake in the formation of Turkish cultural power and investigates the ramifications of these government-sponsored initiatives for scholarly understanding of the relationship between world-building, the circulation of aesthetic practices underpinned by nationalism and religion, and the projection of national power on a global stage.
Article
This study examines the situation of emerging Polish translators of Czech literature who debuted between 1975 and 2017. In this context, it explores the notion of trust. Focusing on the early stages of these translators’ careers, I trace how trust in their skills was built at the interpersonal, institutional and cultural (regime-enacted) levels. To this end, I present the results of 19 semi-structured interviews with – or personalised surveys completed by – Polish translators of Czech literature. What emerges consistently over this period is the significance of interpersonal trust. Nevertheless, this type of trust had to be reinforced by the respondents’ professional skills. As such, interpersonal trust went together with certain aspects of regime-enacted trust. When applying for official roles in the 1970s and 1980s and into the 2000s, the respondents had to prove their experience in editing/proofreading or translating. In the last decade the focus has been on translation/interpreting skills and institutional affiliation. This change reflects the ongoing professionalisation of publishing industry roles. In the case of poetry translation, trust is also based on another regime-endorsed attribute: the ability to write poems oneself .
Article
Through a new perspective that critically draws on the latest findings of world literature studies, this article adds insight to non-translation – a topic thus far under-researched in translation studies – by probing its correlation with insufficient mediation as well as censorship (both real and potential). Specifically, the article focuses on the intriguing exclusion of two China- and Chinatown-themed works of fiction by Argentine writer César Aira, Una novela china and El mármol, from the author’s nine titles recently available in Chinese translation. I argue that the “political incorrectness” of both works in the current PRC context, compounded by a US publisher’s restrictive, filtered, yet indispensable mediation, has left Aira’s Chinese novels – paradigmatic of transculturality and worldliness in an age of globalization – both untranslated and untranslatable for the Chinese book market in the foreseeable future.
Article
Resumo Gisèle Sapiro é diretora de pesquisa e medalhista de prata no Centro Nacional de Pesquisa Científica (CNRS) e diretora de estudos no Centro Europeu de Sociologia e Ciência Política (EHESS) desde 2011. Defendeu sua tese em 1994 sob a orientação de Pierre Bourdieu, mobilizando o conceito de campo para compreender a história estrutural da literatura. Sua formação e contato com Bourdieu e com sua obra tornam Sapiro uma das sucessoras do legado bourdieusiano na França. Os trabalhos de Sapiro abordam temas como a autonomia dos campos, o papel político dos escritores e intelectuais e a circulação dos saberes em uma perspectiva internacional, sobretudo no que concerne às ideias de Bourdieu e notadamente nos Estados Unidos. O objetivo da entrevista com Gisèle Sapiro é colocar em perspectiva as diferentes maneiras de ler e interpretar a obra de Pierre Bourdieu, consequências das distinções de tradução e de apropriação no Brasil e no mundo, a partir do ponto de vista de uma especialista que, sem deixar de trazer suas próprias contribuições para a sociologia crítica, muito cooperou para a difusão das ideias bourdieusianas. O trabalho de Sapiro merece a atenção de todos aqueles que compartilham seu entusiasmo intelectual e estabelecem as bases para uma história transnacional da sociologia.
Book
Combining analysis with detailed accounts of authors' careers and the global trade in literature, this book assesses how postcolonial writers respond to their own reception and niche positioning, parading their exotic otherness to metropolitan audiences, within a global marketplace.
Chapter
I have just made a series of connections between Derek Walcott’s aesthetic concerns, his established authorial tendencies, and the multiple social and political locations within which his career has developed. The case studies in Part II work in a similar way. My attention to writers’ biographies and their relationships to the literary marketplace is at odds with the notion, common throughout much of the twentieth century, and even now possessing some nostalgic power, that successful literature should register the absence of the author as its most apparent creator. As R. Jackson Wilson points out, through multiple influences from fin de siècle art for art’s sake ideology to New Critical formalism, from semiotics to poststructuralism, the ‘true artist’ has often been thought to operate as though ‘the cost of his success was a kind of self-denial, a successful withholding of the self from the work.’2
Article
This paper proposes a new method for the study of world literature. Moretti assumes that within modernity all cultural influences - not necessarily identical with political influences - are part of the struggle for symbolic hegemony. As carriers of modernity literary genres are subjected to various deformations within local cultures.To capture these deformations it is necessary to test selected formal or structural elements (tropes, themes, motife, narrative) across several national literatures.This is not possible through close reading, but only through distant reading, that is to say through interpretations that build on the work of other literary historians. A literary form analysed in this way represents the literary system embodied in the work (a system of literary inequality), and is an abstraction of social relationships. Hence the study of world literature is an analysis of power.
Article
In this book, Gaby Thomson-Wohlgemuth explores the effects of ideology on the English-to-German translation of children's literature under the socialist regime of the former German Democratic Republic. Giving prominence to extra-textual factors, the study undertakes a close investigation of the East German censorship machinery, showing that there was a close correlation between the socialist ideology propagated by the regime and the book selection process itself. Through an analysis of the contents of the print permit (censorship) files and the afterwords found in many books, Thomson-Wohlgemuth demonstrates that literature was re-written not only to placate the censor but also to directly guide the reader down the correct ideological path, both in the selection and interpretation of each translated text.
Article
This article analyzes the translation policies set up in the Arab World since the end of the Second World War, focusing first on the modern Arab discourse on translation, mainly through the example of the 3rd Arab Human Development Report (2003). The Report, based on antiquated and incomplete data, deems the current Arabic translation movement strikingly weak and calls for "an ambitious and integrated Arab strategy" in the field of translation. The article goes on to analyze the programmes carried out by foreign cultural missions active in the region and then examines the indigenous programmes set up by Arab states and institutions. Focusing on the emergence of two discrete moments in local translation policy, the study demonstrates how these indigenous translation programmes were articulated around two complementary logics: a humanistic one, where the aim was to translate into Arabic the 'masterpieces of world literature and thought', and a developmentalist one that proposed to make the most recent scientific developments available to the Arab readership and to contribute to the modernization of the Arabic language. The article concludes with a brief reflection on the relative success of these programmes in light of their historical and discursive goals.
Article
This volume engages critically with the recent and ongoing consolidation of "world literature" as a paradigm of study. On the basis of an extended, active, and ultimately more literary sense of what it means to institute world literature, it views processes of institutionalization not as limitations, but as challenges to understand how literature may simultaneously function as an enabling and exclusionary world of its own. It starts from the observation that literature is never simply a given, but is always performatively and materially instituted by translators, publishers, academies and academics, critics, and readers, as well as authors themselves. This volume therefore substantiates, refines, as well as interrogates current approaches to world literature, such as those developed by David Damrosch, Pascale Casanova, and Emily Apter. Sections focus on the poetics of writers themselves, market dynamics, postcolonial negotiations of discrete archives of literature, and translation, engaging a range of related disciplines. The chapters contribute to a fresh understanding of how singular literary works become inserted in transnational systems and, conversely, how transnational and institutional dimensions of literature are inflected in literary works. Focusing its methodological and theoretical inquiries on a broad archive of texts spanning the triangle Europe-Latin America-Africa, the volume unsettles North America as the self-evident vantage of recent world literature debates. Because of the volume’s focus on dialogues between world literature and fields such as postcolonial studies, translation studies, book history, and transnational studies, it will be of interest to scholars and students in a range of areas. Introduction: World Literature in the Making Stefan Helgesson and Pieter Vermeulen Part I: Instituting Literature 1. How Writing Becomes (World) Literature: Singularity, The Universalizable, and the Implied Writer Stefan Helgesson 2. Instituting (World) Literature Peter D. McDonald 3. World Literature in a Poem: The Case of Herberto Helder Helena C. Buescu Part II: The World Literature Market 4. The Oblivion We Will Be: The Latin American Literary Field after Autonomy Liliana Weinberg 5. On World Literary Reading: Literature, the Market, and the Antinomies of Mobility Pieter Vermeulen 6. World Literature and Market Dynamics Sarah Brouillette Part III: Postcolonial Worlds 7. Archival Trajectories and Literary Voice in Indian Ocean Narratives of Slavery Maria Olaussen 8. African Mediations: Transcultural Writing in Achebe, Gourevitch, Eggers, and Okri Mads Rosendahl Thomsen Part IV: Fields of Translation 9. Strategies of Importation of Foreign Literature in France in the Twentieth Century: The Case of Gallimard, or the Making of an International Publisher Gisèle Sapiro 10. How African Literature Is Made: The Case of Authors from Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa (1960-2010) Claire Ducournau 11. The Scandinavian Literary Translation Field from a Local Point of View: A Peripheral (Sub)field? Yvonne Lindqvist Part V: Worlds in Translation 12. "MÊME DYING STOP CONFIRM ARRIVAL STOP": Provincial Literatures in Global Time—The Case of Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat" Andrew van der Vlies 13. Transcendental Untranslatables: Emerson and Translation David Watson