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The Politics of Translation

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
by Elizabeth Farrugia on 10 December 2012

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Transcript of The Politics of Translation

The Politics of Translation Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, born 24th of February 1942, is an Indian theorist,
philosopher and currently a University Professor at Columbia University. Profile Coined by Antonio Gramsci

Refers to those outside the
hegemonic power structure of a
colony - usually economically
dispossessed.

The Subaltern as appropriated by Spivak The Subaltern The art of persuasive argument through
writing or speech-the art of eloquence
and charismatic language.
Spivak - rhetoric is the name we give to
that which we cannot name, "that which
escapes" our systems for naming,
Spivak reminds us that rhetoric, within an internalist vocabulary, cannot be
"conceptualized" at all. Rhetoric Dictionary Definitions:
-one that acts or exerts power
-something that produces or is capable of producing an effect : an active or efficient
cause

Agents of change - catalyst

The individual or minority Agent She is best known for her work on post-colonialist, feminist and deconstructionist theory. Seminal works include her essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" and her translation and introduction of Derrida's "De la Grammatologie". The Sublime The sublime - the power to provoke strong emotions and spirit, ecstasy even in on one's readers. Spivak - the sublime according to Burke, Kant and Žižek. The Politics of Translation '... language may be one of many elements that allow us to make sense of things, of ourselves.' Language plays a crucial role for the agent. 'The task of the feminist translator is to consider language as a clue to the workings of a gendered agency.' Translation as Reading
'There is a way in which the rhetorical nature of every language disrupts its logical systemacity'



Translator's choice: safe vs taking risks Translation must become an intimate act
rather than an ethical one.

The translator's stake in the agency is to keep 'fraying' at a minimum - except when there is love then, the task of the translator, is to facilitate this love between the Source Text
and 'its shadow'. The same model has to be constructed so
that there is translation - the translator must understand the jagged relationship between rhetoric and logic.



It is much is easier to produce a translation if the above is ignored The Three-Tiered Notion of Language The Woman's Text Rhetoric / Logic / Silence

'We must attempt to enter or direct that staging [the staging of the agent], as one directs a play, as an actor interprets a script. That takes a different kind of effort from taking translation to be a matter of
synonym, syntax and local colour.' Spivak wants the woman's text to have the
same right to complain about the difficulties on finds between English and the language of the minority.

The law of the majority - 'merely the easiest
way to be democratic with minorities'. 'In the act of wholesale translation into English there can be a betrayal of the democratic ideal into the law of the strongest.' Mahasweta Devi 'Breast-giver' 'The Wet-nurse' -Enough to both make sense and shock -Title neutralises the author's irony in constructing an uncanny word. Translation is the most intimate act of reading - the translator must speak of intimate things in the language he is translating into.

ex. - Kakar as an example of a lack of intimacy with the text.

The history of the language, the history of the author's moment, the history of the language-in-and-as-translation must figure as well. Rhetoric Silence Logic Three-part ontology of language The dominant's way of handling this three-part structure of language has to be learned as well if the subordinate ways of dealing with rhetoric are to be disclosed. A text cannot be translated by "anyone who can conduct a conversation in the language of the original". The translator must not only surrender
herself to the linguistic rhetoricity of
the original but also be able to
discriminate on the terrain of the original 'Translation remains dependent upon
the language skill of the majority'.

Making a translated text accessible By doing it for the person who wrote it Translation is not simply transferring content That would betray the text and show dubious politics Translation in General Spivak mentions three examples of cultural translation in English

J.M. Coetzee’s Foe When Susan Barton (18th century English woman) from Roxana tries to teach a muted Friday her language, he “draws an incomprehensible rebus on his slate and he wipes it out” Friday withholds the teaching of this language. Tom Morrison’s Beloved Spivak says that “strictly speaking, this is not a change, but a loss”

Sethe is the central character of the novel, she doesn’t forget what Nan, her mother’s friend told her, a message in a language that “would never come back” but the “message had been there all along”.

“this is not a story to pass on" For Harris, the trees are “the lungs of the globe”

“the obligation of the translator to be able to juggle the rhetorical silences in the two languages”.

Wilson Harris’ The Guyana Quartet Translation in General Inside/outsider translators

The Creole, the slave-daughter and the Carib’s use of English

Wilson Harris’ The Guyana Quartet Reading as Translation Harris uses “sublime” to describe the “paradox between music and cannibalism”

“progressive western subject as a realist interpreter of history”

Reading as Translation The Discourse of the Sublime - Peter de Bolla

“friendly learning by taking a distance”

“women will not be seen as touched by their agency formation by that change” Reading as Translation In Beloved we have seen the
“literal case of the textualization
of the surface of the body
between slave mother and daughter”.


“A lesson learnt, après-coup,
literally after the blow
of the daughter’s own branding” Reading as Translation Spivak looks at The Discourse of the Sublime again

Chapter 10 : “The second part of this study has steadily examined how ‘theory’ sets out to legislate and control a practice, how it produces the excess which it cannot legislate, and removes from the centre to the boundary its limit, limiting case” Reading as Translation “It is therefore only appropriate that its conclusion should
gesture towards the limit,
risk the reinversion of the boundary
by speaking from the other,
refusing silence to what is unsaid”
The Discourse of the Sublime Criticism Opaque writing

Judith Butler

Terry Eagleton

Stephen Morton
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