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Title: Translation under state control : the production and rewriting of books for young people in the German Democratic Republic (1961-1989)
Author: Thomson-Wohlgemuth, Gaby
ISNI:       0000 0001 0655 6251
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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All societies apply some form of selection to their literary production, none more so than totalitarian states. This thesis explores the effects of ideology in the particular instance of the translation of children’s literature from English into German under the socialist regime of the former German Democratic Republic. The main premise is that only by a broader study of the full sociological context in which the production of literature takes place will a comprehensive picture of translational processes and strategies become apparent. The procedure of appropriating texts to become compatible with the prevalent ideology is evidence of a climate hostile to any notion of Otherness. Literature for young readers during the German Democratic Republic was considered to be a vehicle for the promotion of socialist culture, creating in them a love for socialist beliefs and shaping them to be loyal citizens of the future. Precisely because of this high pedagogical value of books, a literature came to the fore that had a high status in society and that found itself at the centre of attention. The fact that the study gives prominence to extra-textual factors makes possible a close investigation of the East German censorship machinery. Indeed, one of the key findings has revealed that censorship of translated books for a younger audience was not mainly centred on text manipulation. Whereas it is true that expressions not convergent with the state ideology were removed from texts, the predominant part of the censorship process had already taken place during the earlier stages of book production. Drawing on Lefevere’s theory (see e.g. 1982, 1985 or 1992) of patronage, poetics and rewriting, it is demonstrated that all book production was subjected to the ideological and poetological norms prevalent in East German society. The thesis comprises two parts. The first part provides a cultural political background and sheds light on the institutional apparatus. It gives evidence that there was a multi-level censorship at work and that it was, in fact, the Party as the patron which propagated certain cultural and literary policies and monitored closely their execution. It is further shown that it was publishers who, in the process of self-censorship, selected suitable texts for translation and publication, texts which in their opinion would not cause problems and could be guided smoothly through the procedure of obtaining a print permit. In view of this selection process, the second part of the thesis analyses the contents of the print permit files, in which publishers justified their choice of book to the censors, and the afterwords found in a significant proportion of books. It is shown that there was a close correlation between the socialist ideology propagated by the regime and the selection process itself. While, however, the literature was rewritten in the print permit files in a way only intended to be seen by the censorship authority, ideology leaks into the printed word in the form of afterwords, addressing the readers directly.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available