Sevinç Türkkan

My work focuses on the English and German translations of the Turkish Noble Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s novels and on translation reception. In this presentation my examples come from the two English and one German translations of Pamuk’s Kara Kitap [The Black Book/The Dark Book]. My examples demonstrate what exactly translators did in order to turn “loss in translation” into gain. Further, I juxtapose the translations with their (negative) reception in book reviews to demonstrate the limited nature of “translation criticism.” Building on a theoretical frame inspired by the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, Rachel May, Theo Hermans, and Antoine Berman, I pose these two questions: (1) How can we thoughtfully approach a text in translation, discuss it by going beyond the commonly circulating binaries of original/copy, faithful/unfaithful, domesticating/foreignizing but also without loosing sight of the ethics and politics of translation and world literature in a world shaped by unequal distribution of cultural and technological resources? (2) What is the task of the critic when confronted with a translated text which as I see it, is a unique archive within whose texture is embedded the cultural and geopolitical asymmetries otherwise obscured by “illusions of transparency” with which translations have come to be reviewed?

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