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Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania

Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania

Sean Cotter
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania
    Book Description:

    Studies of Romanian national imagination have historically focused on the formation of modern Romania after World War I, Romania's fascist movement and alliance with Germany during World War II, or the remobilization of nationalist discourse in the 1970s and 1980s -- moments in which Romanian intellectuals imagine their nation assuming or working toward major cultural status. Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania examines translations by canonical Romanian writers Lucian Blaga, Constantin Noica, and Emil Cioran following the imposition of Communist rule, arguing that their works reveal a new, "minor" mode of national identity based on the model of the translator. The "minor," a term taken from critical theory, centers on tropes of interaction with other cultures, recreation through adaptation, and ironic distance. Drawing on theorists as diverse as Benedict Anderson, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Françoise Lionnet, Sean Cotter proposes that this decentered, multilingual, and multiply oriented imagination of the nation is better suited than older models to understanding a globalized cultural field, one in which translation plays an indispensable role. Sean Cotter is associate professor of literature and literary translation at the University of Texas at Dallas.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-855-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-26)

    The age of nationalism is the age of national poets: Mickiewicz of the Polish, Mácha of the Czechs, Eminescu of the Romanians. Especially for the smaller nations of Central and Eastern Europe, national language plays such a central role in the creation of national identity that those who develop, control, and exploit that language are rewarded with heroic status. Their agency over the language demonstrates the agency of their nation; their beautiful poetry an assertion of parity with that of larger, major nations: they author the nation with authoritative writing. Yet, for the smaller nations, this demonstration inevitably rests on...

  5. Chapter One Resistance and Minor Translation during the Soviet Period
    (pp. 27-50)

    While no topic in the past decades has been as central to translation studies as power, no national form more troubles this topic than the particularities of the minor. Especially when considering the imposition of Soviet-style regimes in the smaller nations, the terms in which we discuss power in translation must change. Stemming from the same understandings of Foucauldian knowledge-equals-power readings that drive broader currents in literary studies, the focus on power has a particular utility in translation. It offers a means to change the discussion of translation from simplistic questions of accuracy and freedom in representation to broader contextual...

  6. Chapter Two Lucian Blaga’s Translations under Soviet Eyes
    (pp. 51-88)

    Of all the authors mentioned in this book, Lucian Blaga offers the most surprising intellectual evolution. A figure so closely associated with inherent concepts of Romanianness—as much before 1944 as in the 1980s, and still today—that he is synonymous with the idea of distinct cultural styles, Blaga during the 1950s turned to translation as a model for and practice of cultural interference. He developed his argument in the second part of hisTrilogia culturii, the 1936Spaţiul Mioritic, in which he argues that Romanian cultural production all shares an analogical relationship to the undulating geography of hills and...

  7. Chapter Three Constantin Noica, Philosopher of the Minor Translation
    (pp. 89-116)

    Other than Constantin Noica, it is difficult to imagine a Romanian cultural figure so central to national cultural politics yet so baffling in his own political choices. An award-winning philosopher, trained in Germany and France, once married to the daughter of English émigrés living in Romania, Noica seemed to many well suited to lead dissent against the insularity and thuggishness of the Communist system. Even his biography endowed him with dissident bona fides. Because of his association with the fascist Legionnaire movement in the 1930s and 1940s, Noica was placed under house arrest in 1949 and imprisoned from 1959 to...

  8. Chapter Four Minor Prayers: The Beauty of the Diminutive in Emil Cioran
    (pp. 117-144)

    If Emil Cioran did not insist, again and again, that he had broken with his birth country, rejected it, and consigned it to oblivion, the persistence of Romania in Cioran’s national imagination would be less surprising. What could be more self-evidently important than the country where one lived his first twenty-six years and the language in which one published his first five books of philosophy? Yet in his writings and interviews, Cioran frequently recounted a scene in which he renounces, categorically, Romanian as a language and Romania as a nation. While on a 1947 bike tour in Offranville, a town...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 145-148)

    This text describes the minor as a particular image of the smaller nation, one born of a hyperengagement with translation; one modeled on, developed within, and expressed through translation. While a more intense practice of translation is characteristic of cultures like Romania—languages with fewer speakers and correspondingly smaller literary production, and states that host a variety of languages and nations, positioned at the crossroads of cultural exchange—the minor described here represents something unusual. The translator moves toward the center of national imagination, becomes a model for a subject distanced from national agency, juxtaposed with the foreign, and engaged...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 149-162)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 163-170)
  12. Index
    (pp. 171-174)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 175-175)