Friday, November 13, 2015

Research Seminar: Borrowed Words: Brodsky’s Collaborative Self-Translation

In their Research Seminar Series 2015-16 the Birmingham Centre for Translation offers a lecture on self-translation by Dr Natasha Rulyova (Birmingham) on Tuesday 17 November 2015 1-2pm, Ashley Building, room 121a (Building R17 on the Edgbaston campus map)

Abstract of the talk:
In this paper, I will propose that collaborative translation and self-translation are not mutually exclusive but, in fact, are two sides of the same coin. Independently, each field – collaborative translation and self-translation – has recently started to receive considerable scholarly attention. Self-translation has become a burgeoning subject of research since the 1980s (Grutman 2013; Boyden & De Bleeker 2013; Hokenson & Munson 2007). Collaborative translation is a newer field but has increasingly been gaining pace (Wakabayashi 2011; Cordingley forthcoming 2016). I will show that self-translation can be, in fact, a form of collaborative translation, especially for late bilingual writers who require a certain ‘reprogramming’ from one language to another (Pavlenko 2014, p.168) This process of re-programming is dialogic: bilingual writers do not only start a dialogue with their inner selves in L2 but they are also in dialogue with native speakers of L2 who often become their implicit co-authors. It is in this dialogic process of co-creation, late bilingual writers conduct their self-translation. As my case study, I discuss the work by Joseph Brodsky, a Russian-American Noble Prize winning poet. Brodsky was a late bilingual who arrived in the USA in 1971, having been exiled from the USSR. His early work was translated into English by excellent translators including George Kline, Daniel Weissbort, Alan Myers and others. By the late 1970s, Brodsky started feeling sufficiently confident to intervene in his translators’ work and to self-translate. My study of his manuscripts and correspondence with his translators reveals some fascinating facts about the way in which Brodsky acquired his English-language voice through borrowing, mixing and experimenting, sometimes at the expense of his dedicated translators and friends.

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