Otherness in translation : contemporary German prose in Britain and France
Drawing on contemporary approaches to otherness, this thesis aims to show that, despite the growing interest in so-called foreignizing translation strategies, the current theory and practice of translation in Western Europe is to a large extent still caught in nationalist self-confirmation. In the first part of my study I expose the nationalist agenda underlying the influential theories of translation developed by Antoine Berman and Lawrence Venuti by contrasting them with the ideas formulated by Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida. Basing their arguments on Friedrich Schleiermacher's essay on translation, both Berman and Venuti intend to undermine the nationalist stance of current translation practice by replacing it with the belief that translation primarily serves to further the understanding of the foreign other. However, this seemingly noble purpose ultimately veils the fact that the foreign other is a construct which is devised by and thus confirms the national community receiving the translation. Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida, by contrast, whose ideas were anticipated by Friedrich Schlegel, believe that the aim of translation is to reveal the otherness of the translating self. Based on these theoretical premises, I examine the significance of otherness in the current practice of translation. This case study focuses on the multidimensional reduction of otherness, as it becomes apparent in the translation of contemporary German prose in Britain, in particular, and to some extent also in France in the two decades preceding and following German unification (1980-1999). In a general overview which compares the selection of texts chosen for translation, the strategies used for their publication as well as the reception of these texts in the press, I conclude that three factors are of particular importance for the rejection of and the ensuing delimitation from German otherness in British and French translations during this period: ideological, generic and linguistic otherness. These particular areas are then further explored in the detailed studies on Monika Maron, Edgar Hilsenrath and Anne Duden. My case study proves that the translators and/or publishers of these authors tend to reject or appropriate those elements of their texts which would highlight the otherness underlying the British and French selves. However, these strategies of dealing with otherness are not limited to interlingual translation. They are anticipated in the reception of the respective texts within Germany.