Commentaries, Manifestos. (Walter Benjamin, Vladimir Nabokov, Stanisław Barańczak)

Schamma Schahadat


The article is concerned with the “other” side of translation studies – not with the academic discourse that has had a strong impact in the context of globalisation and the study of the “own” and the “other” in the last years, but with essayistic forms that have developed around translation(s) right from the beginning of translation theory: forewords, commentaries, manifestos. Writers, philosophers, and translators have always been commenting, describing, prescribing or defending (their) translations or translation in general. Walter Benjamin’s foreword to his translation of Baudelaire, Vladimir Nabokov’s commentary on his own translation of Pushkin’s Yevgeni Onegin and Stanisław Barańczak’s translational manifesto, his Manifest translatologiczny, are analysed in regard to translation theory. It turns out that Benjamin’s foreword as well as Nabokov’s commentary take their translations (of Baudelaire or Pushkin) mainly as a springboard for questions and experiments transcending the actual translation, while Barańczak (as well as later Andrzej Kopacki) in his manifesto developed a kind of manual for translation criticism.

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