Translation’s Forgotten History investigates the meanings and functions that translation generated for modern national literatures during their formative period and reconsiders literature as part of a dynamic translational process of negotiating foreign values. By examining the triadic literary and cultural relations among Russia, Japan, and colonial Korea and revealing a shared sensibility and literary experience in East Asia (which referred to Russia as a significant other in the formation of its own modern literatures), this book highlights translation as a radical and ineradicable part—not merely a catalyst or complement—of the formation of modern national literature. Translation’s Forgotten History thus rethinks the way modern literature developed in Korea and East Asia. While national canons are founded on amnesia regarding their process of formation, framing literature from the beginning as a process rather than an entity allows a more complex and accurate understanding of national literature formation in East Asia and may also provide a model for world literature today.
Translation’s Forgotten History powerfully unpacks the overlooked translation and retranslation regimes central to the formation of modern Korean literature in the early twentieth century. Offering a rich translational analysis of movements among Korean, Japanese, and Russian literary texts, this book opens up a new understanding of both the process of imagining ‘national literatures’ in East Asia and the global politics of translation itself.
Innovative and concise, Translation’s Forgotten History exemplifies the strengths of comparative literary studies since the coming of postcolonial scholarship. How did Tolstoy, Chekhov, and other Russian writers come to dominate the Korean literary imagination through Japanese/English translations? The author explores this fascinating history by examining multiple mediations of foreign texts in modern Korea and succeeds in altering our conception of the foundations of a national literature.
Translation’s Forgotten History provides a particularly welcome new perspective on literary dynamics in twentieth-century East Asia by examining Korean intellectuals’ translations and appropriations of Russian prose through Japanese-language translations. Based on extensive archival material in vernacular languages, it is the first English-language study to analyze the relationships among Russian, Korean, and Japanese language and literatures. This is, needless to say, a vital topic for the fields of Korean and East Asian literatures, as well as for comparative and world literature.
- 264 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Asia Center
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