Translating Romanian literature, a strategy of intercultural communication. the case of Radu Tudoran, a best-selling novelist.
The situation of the international recognition of a marginal literature represents the starting point of any project of spreading its cultural values through professional translations in languages of international circulation. The percent of original literature translated into major languages represents the key of the entrance of the marginal literature into the international circuit of literary values. In the history of the last two centuries, the cultural epochs of the Romanian literature have known aesthetic patterns which marked their evolution, penetration and influence over cultural spaces from abroad. The existence of a cultural strategy in the field of translations presupposes studying, scheduling and developing, in very precise moments of activity, every term of the equation in which are involved the author, literary critics, professional translators associations, promoters of cultural marketing studies, and the public itself. The transfer of cultural information through literary translations is viable, if the action of the agents involved in the process is co-interested. Any culture expressed by a less-used language has a chance of building a cultural strategy for international promotion of its literary products.
This paper points out the comparative historical background of a Romanian prolific novelist of the 20th century, Radu Tudoran (1910-1992). He is an author of best-sellers, some of which were translated both in the context of the divided European cultural space during his life and after 1990. To reconsider Radu Tudoran through those translations, the present analysis starts mainly from the author's bibliography and the three novel fragments translated into English between 1970 and 2007.
Translating or trading? A well-known literary name emerged at the end of the interwar epoch, banned in the communist epoch for his best-seller novel Un port la rasarit/A Port in the East (1941), without considering himself a dissident writer, and very rapidly forgotten after his death, Radu Tudoran remains a paradoxical writer. Although he wrote as a best-seller novelist, although he was a refined translator who was not a "court writer" of the socialist regime, his work was less translated into international languages both in the communist epoch and in the transition era after 1989. As an irony of fate, the posterity "forgets" to have Radu Tudoran's works translated. The reason is the absence of a marketing strategy for trading translated books in Eastern Europe.
One of the conclusions dwells on the fact that, in the absence of a coherent strategy for the literary patrimony in the field of translations within a marginal culture, the authors themselves have to invest in the literary translation of their works in order to be read by the public from Western European countries and America. It all depends on the cultural age and the different rhythms regarding the opening passages and the wish to construct cultural bridges through translations.
2. Cultural Factors between Pedals and Brakes: Repertoires and Other Factors
After a fruitful period for the humanistic disciplines, be they literary, philosophical, social and historical, and after a period during which the Romanian culture reached the standards of modernity, there came an epoch which flourished and rapidly developed starting from the second half of the 19th century, the war's years and mainly the first decade after August 23rd 1944 which all put a brake on the interwar modernizing epoch and diverted the creative energies of the Romanian literati to a different direction. For some of them, as Tudoran, the above mentioned period marked the chance of salvation through assiduous writing, without renouncing their cultivated talent.
Analyzing comparatively the repertoire of the Romanian literature in the 19th and the 20th century by means of bibliographic references such as DGLR 2005, DGLR 2007, Bibliografia I and Bibliografia II, one should remark that in an epoch of cultural modernization, the key element of the accelerator pedal was represented by bilingualism, a phenomenon which is characteristic of the Romanian intellectuals of the 19th century, when the author and the translator were one and the same person. This affirmation has two meanings:
The first meaning refers to the moment Mihail Kogalniceanu (1840), when the Romanian readers were notified that "translations are not literature". In the absence of a clear delimitation of the author's rights, there were men of letters who, inspired by numerous readings in languages of international circulation, wrongly believed that translated and adapted texts could be considered original works, belonging to a younger literature. Such creations were rejected owing to their lack of originality.
The second meaning refers to the 19th century Romanian authors, belletrists who were educated to express themselves in French or German (which were the international European languages of the epoch) and who wrote a part of their works in those languages, benefiting more or less from spreading their works in the cultural spaces already mentioned.
Regarding the connection of the author with the translator and the promoter of the cultural marketing in the 19th century, the case of Mihai Eminescu is illustrative. Before Maiorescu's edition, the so-called Princeps edition in 1884, Eminescu's poems had been read by the public in a German collection of poems: Rumanische Dichtungen. Deutsch von Carmen Sylva. Herausgegeben und mit weiteren Beitragen Versehen von Mite Kremnitz'" Leipzig: Wilhelm Friederich Verlag, 1881, VIII + 214 p.
The problem of "forms without content", as expressed by Maiorescu, in the field of literary translation and of the discrepancy between the prolific author and the specialized translator was solved in the effort of 'burning the stages' in the 19th century literature. In the prospect of modernization, it represented a challenge that the Romanian society had to meet by an equation written as LANGUAGE + POWER = CULTURE. In this equation, involved in the cultural marketing project mentioned above were the promoter: Titu Maiorescu (an influential literary critic and politician); the translator: Carmen Sylva (Queen Elisabeth of Romania); the editor: Mite Kremnitz (Maiorescu's sister-in-law). Mihai Eminescu, who was considered by Maiorescu the most important poet of the moment, taught them both Romanian language and grammar. The author, Mihai Eminescu, and the promoter, Titu Maiorescu, were perfectly communicating with each other, as in a rare successful context.
On the principle that the European cultural centers were represented by the Western metropolises and the international languages of power circles, this was the first strategy used in translating Romanian literature. It was materialized in the subsequent German and French versions of Eminescu's literary work, which marked the route of its spread into Western Europe (Germany, Switzerland, France) at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the next. Works by Mihai Eminescu were published in:
Rumanische Dichtungen. Deutsch von Carmen Sylva. Herausgegeben und mit weiteren Beitragen Versehen von Mite Kremnitz. 2nd edition, Bonn:Verlag von E. Strauss, 1885-1886, 405 p. 3rd edition, Bonn: Verlag von E. Strauss, 1889, 340 p.
Die Lieder aller Volker und Zeiten von Hans Grabow. Hamburg: Kramer, 1888, 620 p.
Quelques poesies de Michail Eminesco. Notice biografique par Alexandro Vlahoutza. Traduction de M.M.V. (MM. Miller-Verghi). Geneve: Ch. Eggimann et C-ie, Paris, Librairie Fischbacher, 1892, 2 f.+120 p. 2nd edition, Bucarest: Minerva, 1910.
Sept contes roumains. Traduite par Jules Brun. Avec une introduction generale et un commentaire folkloriste par Leo Bachelin. Paris: Firmin-Didot et C-ie, 1894, 343 p.
Deutsche Ubertragungen aus den auserleseneren Dichtungen des verstorbenen rumanische Poeten Michail Eminescu von Em. Grigorovitza. Berlin: Verlag von Alexander Dunker, 1901, XVIII + 43 p.
Der arme Dionis. Aus dem Rumanischen ubersetzt von H. Sanielevici und W. Majerczik. Bukarest, Buchdr. Bucharester Tagblatt, 1904, 65 p.
Anthologie de la litterature roumaine des origines au XX-e siecle. Traduction et extrait des principaux poetes et prosateurs. Introduction historique et notice par N. lorga et Septime Gorceix". Paris: Librairie Delagrave, 1920, XXXI + 311p.
As concerns Radu Tudoran, the writer made his debute as a reporter and writer in 1938, without attracting much attention and appreciation from literary critics. However, in his "History of Romanian Literature from its Origins to the Present", G. Calinescu mentioned the author's debut, which Tudoran remembered while writing about his novel "A Port in the East"?
"Radu Tudoran is writing short stories for the time being (...) with inspiration from all the four winds" or "all the points of the compass". I don't remember. They are not wrong, and that expression "for the time being" tells a lot.
I pass over the almost pleasant remark "agreeable short stories for magazines" or "very agreeable". They were not agreeable for literary magazines either, except for Foen, a text written when I was twenty, published after a decade. I selected it for a test of my past as a disciple in literature. Otherwise, it was not suitable for a place like The Town with Poor Girls [Orasul cu fete sarace], where there was a lot of sadness.
Six years later, when I met Calinescu, he asked me to send him my books, to read them (at that time his Compendium had just been published with a short analysis of my writings in it). I said: "But you have already written about my works once!" "Me? No, no. I haven't". If it hadn't been clearly written, I would have thought that I didn't know where I was. This is a funny story rather than an important one; I mentioned it thinking that it can bring a pungent note to another literary history. (Tudoran, 2004: XVIII--my translation).
While Radu Tudoran continued to be one of the best known novelists during the Second World War, his collection of short stories Orasul cu fete sarace/The Town with Poor Girls (1940) together with the forbidden post war-writings Germania, octombrie 1939: aspecte din toamna mzboiului/Germany, October 1939. Aspects of the War Autumn and the novel Un port la rasarit/A Port in the East (1941), were banned from 1944 to 1990. The action of these writings was placed in Bessarabia or at Dniester Liman, a territory which belonged to a Soviet republic, according to the postwar borders. Writing about them in a realistic way was forbidden and it was considered an outrage for the political relationship between Romania and the great Soviet Union. Without having anyone to blame, almost everything written about these books--except for a single study of Pompiliu Constantinescu (1971: 138-141)--could not be reprinted during the communist age.
The year 1941, when "A Port in the East" saw the light of printing, was the moment when a glorious era of Romanian interwar novel drew to an end and other horizons opened for another type of novel. The book remained a best-seller, because six editions were released between 1941 and 1944, when the work was already banned. With brakes put on its spread for 46 years, when the book was published again in 1990, the author confessed:
After hesitations and tormenting doubts, I agreed to be reprinted, as Mr. Valeriu Rapeanu, the manager of Eminescu Publishing House at that time, insisted on reading it (...) As I was looking at that book, written five decades before, it seemed to me it wasn't fitted to our time, it had the age's artlessness which I couldn't admit in that moment. I re-read it, at the beginning halfheartedly, then I accepted it, and in the end it conquered me completely. I checked the style again, leaving the substance unchanged. When the new manuscript was ready, after Mr. Valeriu Rapeanu had been scrutinizing the initial edition for a few months, he didn't mention any major changes. I have rarely renounced the artlessness and the purity of the first version, I gave them a purified expression, simpler and more discrete, and this way more convincing. I wanted it to remain the book I'd written fifty years before; that is the way in which it has to be seen. This doesn't mean that I demand the reader to have as much indulgence as it is necessary to understand and acknowledge writing The Sorrows of Young Werther which is older, frankly speaking.
Having finished the revision of the old text (an extensive meticulousity, a hard fight with doubts, oscillating between exigency and prudence besides joy), the grief and the puzzle overcame my soul.
I don't believe "A Port in the East" [Un port la rasarit] to be my best book, as they say; this may be because it was a surprise. But I agree that it represents me entirely, so perfectly that when I wrote the final full stop after the last sentence, I asked myself why I should have to write other books: of course, because otherwise it was impossible. (Tudoran, 2004: XVIII-XIX--my translation)
A prolific writer until 1989, Radu Tudoran saw, during his lifetime, many of his works translated into Central and Eastern European languages, such as Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian and Polish. Fragments of his books were translated into German and English mainly in the 1970s and only one after 1989. The following bibliographic list is an illustrative example:
Dagado vitotlakkal. Regeny Forditotta: Vigh Karoly Bukarest: Ifjusagi Konyvkiado, 1958, 796-803 p. Original title: Toate pinzele sus!
Wszystkie zagle w gore. Przelozyla z rumunskiego Janina Wrzoskowa. Warszawa: Iskry, 1958, 559-564 p. Original title: Toate pinzele sus!
Nidko te noci nespal. Prelozil a upravit Otakar Jirous. Praha: Statnii naklalestvi detske knihy, 1962, 471-472 p. with illustrations. Original title: Ultima poveste, Arad a Duna. (A regeny atdotgozett III kiadasa nyoman forditotto Faskerthy Gyorgy), Bukarest: Irodalmi Konyvkiado, 1968, 686-688 p. Original title: Dunarea revarsata
[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]., 1969, 647-691 p. Original title: Toate panzele sus!
The Blessed Virgin Mary Does Not Protect the Sailors. Translated by Valeria Alcalay in Romanian Review, 24, no. 2, April-June 1970, p. 27-43. Original title:
Die Pyramide. Aus dem Rumanischen von Erika Scharf. In N. Lit., no. 8, August 1973, p. 32-41.
Kadunud poeg. Rumeenia keelest tolkinud Natalie Alver ja Thelma Tali, Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1974, 334-336 p. Original title: Fiul risipitor
North of Ourselves (From North of Ourselves, 1979). Translated by Doru Dobrescu in Romanian Review, 39, no.11,1985, p.11-16. Original title: La nord de noi insine
Dagado vitorlakkal. Regeny Forditotto Vigh Karoly Harmadik, kiadas, kotet I-II, Bukarest: Kriterion, 1986, 2 volumes: vol. I, 424-431 p. with illustrations; vol.II, 408 p. with illustrations. Original title: Toate pinzele sus!
See ilus neiu. Rumeenia keelest tolkinud, N. Alver, R. Jesmin.--Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1993, 438 p. Original title: Acea fata frumoasa
Anchors away! fragment; translation by Emanuel Vasiliu in Plural, no. 2, III-IV, 2007, p. 400-404 : il. Original title: Toate pinzele sus!
Without a long-term strategy for translating Romanian literature, without investing much energy in the cultivation of a link between the author and the translator, the translation of a successful novel from one marginal culture into another one does not have the same grasp of the public. The explanation is the heterogeneous taste of the public and the differences between the two cultures. Sometimes, the thematic heterogeneity of the prolific author requires a selection of works to be translated. In the autobiographic fragment mentioned above (supra: p. 4), the author remembered the experiences and obsessions which became themes of his books: the oil world (Flacari/ Flames, 1945), the flying world (Anotimpuri/Seasons, 1943), the Danube port world (Toate pi-nzele sus!/Anchors Away!, 1954), the fanciful world of geography and history (Maria [section]i marea/Maria and the Sea, 1973), the nautical experience and the Dniester Liman (Un port la rasarit/A Port in the East, 1941).
As translator and editor of Romanian translations from Russian, Radu Tudoran signed the translations of the following works from the repertoire of world literature, most of them travel and adventure writings:
Semuskin, T.Z. Alitet pleaca in munti/Alitet is Going to the Mountains, I-II, pref. Silvian Iosifescu, Bucuresti, 1949 (in collaboration with Elena Sepeliova).
Manf Suleimanov. Tainele adancurilor/Mysteries of the Depths, Bucuresti, 1950 (in collaboration with Igor Gherlacov).
Zakrutkin, V.A. Staniia plutitoare/The Floating Stanitsa, Bucureti, 1952 (in collaboration with Stefania Bratulescu)
Fadeev, A.A. Ultimul din Udeghe/The Last of Udeghe, Bucuresti, 1951 (in collaboration with Maria Vlad)
Nikitin, N.N. Aurora boreala/The Northern Lights, preface by Zamfir Brumaru, Bucuresti, 1951 (in collaboration with Igor Gherlacov)
Platov, L. Arhipelagul care dispare/The Vanishing Archipelago, Bucuresti, 1951 (in collaboration with Igor Gherlacov)
Ribakov, A.N. Oameni care conduc/Driving People, Bucuresti, 1951 (in collaboration with Valentina Gaidos) Bek, A.A. Grauntele de otel/The Steel Grain, Bucuresti, 1952 (in collaboration with Irina Burlenco)
Zapotocky, A. Se ridica noi luptatori/New Fighters are Rising, Bucuresti, 1952 (in collaboration with Petre Buga)
Likstanov, I.I. Aventurile unui mic marinar/The Adventures of a Little Sailor, Bucuresti, 1953 (in collaboration with G. Antonescu)
Semuskin, T.Z. Ciucotca/Chukotka, Bucuresti, 1953 (with I. Georgevici)
Prus, Boleslaw. Papusa/The Doll, pref. I.C. Chitimia, I-II, Bucuresti, 1954 (in collaboration with T. Dan [Dan Telemac]). 2nd edition, Bucuresti, 1993
Verne, Jules, Cinci saptamani in balon/Five Weeks in a Balloon, Bucureti, 1955. 2nd edition, Bucuresti, 1995
Verne, Jules, Ocolul pamantului in optzeci de zile/A Tour of the World in Eighty Days, Bucuresti, 1956
Verne, Jules, Arhipelagul in flacari/The Archipelago on Fire, Bucuresti, 1957
Goncearov, I.A. Fregata Pallada/Pallada Frigate, I-II, Bucuresti, 1956 (in collaboration with M. Mihail)
Darwin, Charles. Calatoria unui naturalist in jurul lumii pe bordul vasului Beagle/The Travel of a Naturalist Around the World on Board of Beagle, Bucuresti, 1958 (in collaboration with Dinu Bondi)
Tolstoi, A.N. Aelita, Bucuresti, 1958 (in collaboration with Andrei Ivanovski)
3. Homogeneity and Heterogeneity
LANGUAGE + POWER = CULTURE: These are the terms of an equation where the homogeneity of the readers' groups plays an important role. Homogeneity of the readers' group refers to the readers' age category, the purpose of reading, and the level of knowledge and preparedness. If this idea is applied to the translation field, the first conclusion could refer to identifying the profile of the public interested in translations as a cultural product. One of the main informational resources about Romanian literary life for the Western Europe at that time, Radu Tudoran's novels could also have contained elements that were ideologically unacceptable to the communist party and to the communist bloc. Therefore, for a certain public of the Eastern bloc, only certain novels were translated.
The power of a widely used language to mirror and influence a cultural space is well known. On the other hand, the texts chosen to be translated have a familiar content for the target public. In speaking and especially in translation, words influence the thinking involved in describing the same reality, altering the perception and the reaction of the public, building bridges between the respective cultures.
To gain new book markets, translation marketing strategies must have continuity across epochs. As concerns Eminescu, after the First World War, editions of his poems followed the route of being translated into the major languages of that moment: Italian, English, Spanish and German, taking into account the changes of the cultural and historical European context:
Eminescu, Mihai. Poesie. Prima versione italiana dal testo rumeno con introduzione e note a cura di Ramiro Ortiz. The first Italian version of the Romanian text with introduction and notes by Ramiro Ortiz, Firenze: G.C. Sansoni, 1927, LXXI +167 p.
Eminescu, Mihai. Poems of Mihai Eminescu. Translated from the Rumanian and rendered into the original meters by E. Sylvia Pankhurst and I. O. Ctefanovici, Ph.D. with a preface by George Bernard Shaw with an introduction by N. Iorga, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1930, XXIV + 120 p.
Eminescu, Mihai. Poemas (Seleccion). Trad. Espagnol Maria Gabriela Corcuera. Pref. Joaquin de Entrambasaguas. Madrid: Suca. S. Ocana, 1945, 31p.
Eminescu, Mihai. Poesias. Coleccao bilingue dirigida pelo Dr. A. de Oliveira Cabral. Seleccao, traducao, prefacio e notas de Victor Buescu. Colaboracao de Carlos Queiroz. Com um ensaio de Mircea Eliade, Lisboa: Fernandes, 1950, 244 p.
Eminescu, Mihai. Poesias. Version espagnola de Maria Teresa Leon y Rafael Alberti. Buenos Aires: Losado, 1958, 207 p. + portr.
Another example, that of the prose writer Bucura Dumbrava (1868-1926) who published her novel Der Haiduck/The Outlaw first in German (Regensburg, 1908, and then in Romanian: Haiducul (translated by Teodor Nica, Bucharest, 1908) illustrates the cultural marketing strategy of that time. The best-seller was reprinted in ten Romanian editions, the last one in 1956.
After the Second World War, the two books by Radu Tudoran that were banned following the issue of the 156-page booklet containing The Publications Withdrawn until June 1,1946 by the Ministry of Information (the Commission for applying Art. 16 of the Armistice Convention), were:
659. Tudoran Radu Germania, octombrie 1939: aspecte din toamna razboiului/Germany, October 1939. Aspects of the War Autumn
660. Tudoran Radu Un port la rasarit/A Port in the East
The latter entry had the following explanatory note: "for details which must be removed from the text of future editions, and which are acceptable for circulation". (Cronologia II, 2010:132--my translation).
Accordingly, these books were to be banned until 1990. The name of Radu Tudoran was also present on the list of journalists who were to be combed out, published in the Romanian Communist Party "official" newspaper Scinteia of 13 July 1945. By the decision of the Board of Ministers, Tudoran was "suspended as journalist for one year" (Cronologia I, 2010: 343). Some literary journals of the time had included positive notes on the author. Thus, in Universul literar, under the column "Literary Notebook (9 March, 1945), Camil Baltazar favorably reviewed his latest novels, among which Tudoran's Flacari/Flames (Cronologia I, 2010, 278). In Resista cercului literar (5 May 1945), Ion Negoiescu, in his article Reviews, discusses the same novel by Tudoran, stating that [Flacari/Flames] is a book "with which the author comes of age and into the literary works area which remains in the literary history" (Cronologia I, 2010: 391--my translation).
The heterogeneity of the critical and political opinions about the writer's work represented a filter for the selection of the texts which, once translated in a widely used language, are suitable for the homogeneity of the readers' group. Once the selection was made--in the communist age the censorship having an important role--the translated texts are always prepared to fulfill the tastes of the homogeneous public of readers.
4. Intercultural Contacts: Borders, Competitions, Resistance and Resentment
To highlight the differences between cultural epochs in the case of Radu Tudoran, it is important to discuss the analogy concerning the destiny of the Romanian cultural elite.
If in the second half of the 19th century, the intelligentsia became aware of the necessity of an original culture (to justify the creation of the Romanian national state), after the Second World War, the highbrows of the interwar period were brutally eliminated or put on the shelf. If at the end of the 19th century the cultural effervescence proceeded through the free circulation of ideas, after 1945 the normal intercultural contacts following the continuity of ideas movement were supervised, attentively overseen and restricted. The building of the two European political blocs through the raise of the symbolic Iron Curtain generated cultural competition. In the marginal cultural spaces, this means both resistance and resentment. Although the first two of Radu Tudoran's books had been considered unacceptable from an ideological point of view, the author did not "re-write" them. Tudoran did not transform himself into an inoffensive communist or even an adulatory writer. After a period in which he survived as a translator, Radu Tudoran succeeded in his effort of making his voice clearly heard according to his propensity for writing best sellers, in an era when he brought his contribution to the renaissance of the Romanian adventure novel.
5. Literature and Transfer Agents: Importers, Mediators and Solution Seekers
The translation of a literary work from an international language into the language of a marginal culture and launching this translation on such a market is an approach through which the author enlarges his public. This happens because international languages usually represent the aesthetic reference point in a country having a 'marginal culture'.
The best-sellers or most prize-winning authors are usually translated into the languages of minor cultures. If literary criticism has done its duty, both in book reviewing or in differentiating hierarchies, then translation is placed in its natural place. The transfer agents are usually the editors from the respective countries. They bring in texts and they look for the best translators. The public success in the source country could be a marketing trump card even in the country where the translation is made.
Although Radu Tudoran was noticed by literary reviewers and critics, although he won prizes for the novels he had written, the translations of his works were published without any monographic references. The phenomenon, which could be called the deprivation of the universal culture by the marginal one, refers to the most valuable literary works from a certain country not being expressed or rendered in widely used languages. It was the political censorship during the Stalinist period which repressed ideas disquieting to rulers. The literary history of a nation was censored by eliminating those who made it, be it their names and images, or even physically. It was the censorship "fashion" of the years 19608 to "miss" in the literary histories the names of such important interwar writers as Octavian Goga or Lucian Blaga, or to "omit" Eminescu's political articles and the poem "Doind" from any of his volumes published between 1944-1990. In Radu Tudoran's case, the promotion of his works through translations was made first in Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Bulgarian and Estonian and then, fragmentarily, in international languages.
The promotion of Radu Tudoran's adventure literature was made through the film series Anchors Aweigh directed by Mircea Murecan, after the film-script by Alexandru Strueanu and Mircea Murecan. The music of the film was composed by Radu Serban. The film, as a transfer agent of the novel's message, is an eclectic mediator, which combines the image, the word and the music, while the translator, a sort of a mediator of the novel's message, acts only at the level of the literary language.
Unlike the film which condenses or dilates the book message in time, the translation is a message transposition, in real time, during the reading, of the equivalent of the original text in another literary language If the literary translation has a limit of the readers' number depending on the circulation of the edition, the film's audience exponentially increases every time the film is released. With successful movies, the reverse phenomenon takes place: the film's fans return to reading the book.
In the last decade, such cultural marketing was made for The Lord of the Rings. The fantastic novel, written by the Oxford University professor J.R.R. Tolkien, was published in the 1950s. Having become a cultural phenomenon quite soon, with a literary market both in Great Britain and United States, due to both the author's talent and the international language in which the novel was written, the book was translated into forty languages, and the translations were appreciated as successful to various degrees. Tolkien, who was a philologist, attentively studied those translations and began to write about them and his work. Thus, he produced the well-known Guide of the Names in the Lord of the Rings (1967), a book which has the purpose to orientate all those people who aim to translate his novel. The contact between the author and his translators of anytime is done through this text seeking solutions to the difficulties in the process of translation. Tolkien's book was marketed by a permanent promotion in the literary English publications from all over the world. When the on-line editions of the newspapers were available, they reiterated and amplified its good reception, insisting upon the quality of the 19th century book. At the same time, a global mass commercialization was done for the film release in 2002-2003, which directed the impact diminution over the reception of the book.
Writing well means the writer departing a little from valid grammar rules, from common usage and standards. Ortega y Gasset considered writing to be a "rebellion against the social environment, subversion". According to him, the main distinction between the author and the translator regards their temperaments. If the translator chooses that profession because of their shyness, he or she will never have the courage to force the grammar rules and transpose the author's 'disobedient text' into the 'stays' of the common language. To put it differently, the translator will betray, as Italians say: traduttore, tradittore. In his Guide ..., Tolkien had forestalled such deception.
Radu Tudoran is one of the writers whose words have a specific cadence in the sentence and this fact underlines the presence of a personal style very difficult to be translated in another language. The translator will translate the words which have a special significance in the author's language, a common meaning. The translator will take the personal note away from the style, which is precisely the most distinctive part of the author's writing. It is a utopia to think that the translation of the novel title has the same meaning in two different languages. For instance, the title of the most famous novel by Tudoran, Toate pinzele sus!, was translated as All Sails Up! and Anchors Away! (sometimes spelt Anchors Aweigh!).
6. The Cultural Translation
If in the field of exact or natural sciences the translator must be familiar with the knowledge of the terminology significance, i.e. the meaning of the technical terms which are to be translated, the linguists are aware that besides knowing people' words, it is important to know their thoughts: languages separate individuals especially because they are arising from different intellectual systems. Translation means both transposition of the words from a language into another and the description of a world's nook. It represents a bridge between civilizations, by means of cultural translation, which thus becomes a sort of ambassador when two civilizations meet. In the case of Radu Tudoran, the fragments of his works translated into English and published in Romanian literary magazines faithfully express the relationship between silences and words in the equation of the Romanian language.
The English translations (The Blessed Virgin Mary Does Not Protect the Sailors, in 1970; North of Ourselves, in 1985; and Anchors Away!, in 2007) loyally express facts that sometimes are omitted to be uttered. All of the three fragments describe some cultural spaces beyond borders at a time when travelling to Western Europe was considered a privilege. For the Romanian public or for the public living in the same cultural area since the end of the communist age, such translations represent a daring endeavor to express humanness. The cultural translation must not be merged with the literary work; rather, it is the way to that work. In a globalized world, the translation plays the significant part of offering models to the present which is short of models. Translation revives an era and clearly restores the atmosphere of that time. In the translation of a modern work, the public values exoticism, much more a unique world, a clear and surprising language. The classic author's scientific way with annotations and explanations, without renouncing the clear and elegant expression. Radu Tudoran used his experience as a translator to enrich Romanian literature with modern and classical works from world literature in a period when access to culture was limited. His example both as a novelist and a translator is to be followed by other authors. If Radu Tudoran had translated some of his own works into an international language, probably they might have become best sellers too.
The language modeling force starts from a very good knowledge of the written and spoken source language, an excellent usage of the target language, the acquaintance with the type of subject of the text to be translated and a profound understanding of the etymological and idiomatic correlations between the two languages.
In conclusion, cultural translation is an important force of progress, irrespective of the age when it exerts its influence. For the politically correct aspiration that one can have for cultural or linguistic diversity, a strategy for cultural translation could include a History of Literary Translation from Romanian Literature into International Languages. Ironically, translation means not only producing equivalent versions from one language into another. In genetics, it also means the process of forming a protein molecule inside a living cell from information contained in 'messenger' RNA. If translation still has the value of an instrument of discovery and exchange, it could help the others encounter and experience our culture in this postcolonial-postmodernist world, where novelty constantly enters through cultural translation. *
*** Bibliografia I = Bibliografia relatiilor literaturii romane cu literaturile straine in periodice (1859-1918), vol. I-III, Bucuresti: Editura Academiei Romane, 1980-1985
*** Bibliografia II = Bibliografia relatiilor literaturii romane cu literaturile straine in periodice (1919-1944), vol.II-V, Bucuresti: Saeculum I, O., 1999-2003
*** Cronologia I = Cronologia literaturii romane perioada postbelica I, 1944-1945, Bucuresti: Editura Muzeul Literaturii Romane, 2010.
*** Cronologia II = Cronologia literaturii romane perioada postbelica II, 1946-1947, Bucuresti: Editura Muzeul Literaturii Romane, 2010.
*** DGLR 2005 = Dicftonarul general al literaturii romane (E/K), vol. III, Bucurecti: Univers Enciclopedic, 2005, p. 36-62.
*** dGlR 2007 = Dicponarul general al literaturii romane (S/T), vol. VI, Bucuresti: Univers Enciclopedic, 2007, p. 800-804.
Constantinescu, Pompiliu. "Radu Tudoran, <<Anotimpuri>> (roman)". In: Scrieri, vol.5, Bucuresti: Minerva, 1971,p.138-141.
Tudoran, Radu. "Un port la rasarit--fata cu timpul si cu mine insumi". In Radu Tudoran: Un port la rasarit, Bucuresti: Gramar: 2004, p. XVIII-XIX.
* Parts and versions of this essay were delivered at the University Spiru Haret and I am grateful to my audiences (Prof. Rodica Ctefan, Maria Osiac and Adina Radulescu) for many helpful observations and suggestions.
Spiru Haret University
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|Publication:||Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2014|
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