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Images and Imaginations: The History of Arabic, African and Latin American Literatures in Translation into Swedish

The research project is funded by the Swedish Research Council 2007-2010

Researchers: Tetz Rooke (GU), Mikela Lundahl (GU), Cecilia Alvstad (GU)

As the Second World War came to an end, the world opened up. A new world order dawned, new countries emerged and new voices began to make themselves heard. In the field of literature, books from non-European countries began to be published in Sweden. African, Arabic and Latin American literatures were introduced to the public through an increasing number of translations, and today fiction by writers from non-European countries constitute as it were a genre of its own in Swedish translation literature. It is not extensive, but has its own publishing houses, magazines, libraries and experts, as well as its own vested interests and discourse. It is surrounded by conventionalized images and imaginations that both support and challenge the prejudices of exoticism, Orientalism and xenophobia, sometimes in one and the same literary text. As projections of ideological and aesthetic ideals in the Swedish target culture, these images and imaginations constitute fictions of the “far away”.

The purpose of this project is to study Swedish “Far-away Fictions”, their construction and development in the translations themselves as well as in publishers’ blurbs, in prefaces and reviews. There is an acknowledged dearth of historical approaches to literary translation as a subject of academic study in Sweden, and the project will contribute to the filling of this gap.
Another significant contribution of the project to scientific research is expected in the problematisation of the theoretical concepts of “source culture” and “target culture” since translations from “far away” often depend on a previous existence in world languages such as English.

In addition to the analysis of bibliographical and statistical data, the research group members will study both book production and reception in order to gain new knowledge of literary translation as a cultural process. Case studies representative of different periods and issues will be used as a method. Selected translations will systematically be compared to originals in order to identify and assess the nature of translation changes.

Contact Information

Tetz Rooke, professor i arabiska

Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg

+46 (0) 31 786 4067

Page Manager: Annika Andersson|Last update: 10/14/2010

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