In my research on translation in Fascist Italy (Rundle 1999; 2000; 2004; 2010; Rundle & Sturge 2010) I have been struck by one feature which I think is worth reflecting on and which, perhaps, goes counter to normal expectations concerning the role of translation and translators within a dictatorship, or totalitarian system. This is that the Fascist regime’s main concern was not the impact of individual texts that may have slipped through the censor’s net, or the potentially seditious effect of politically unreliable translators; rather it was concerned with the symbolic, and therefore political, value of translation as an overall phenomenon. In this paper I describe the two significant stages in the evolution of the regime that directly affected its perception of translation. Firstly, translation as a form of cultural exchange came into conflict with Fascist imperialist ambitions, calling into question the cultural hegemony of the regime and its ability to expand abroad. Secondly, with the introduction of racist legislation, translation came to be seen as a form of cultural miscegenation, a practice that, if allowed to continue uncontrolled, could threaten the cultural purity of the nation. In both these instances it is the symbolic, propaganda, value of translation that is the focus of the regime’s attention. They didn’t fear the translators or publishers, over whom they had quite sufficient control; they didn’t see translation as an act of opposition in itself, given that this form of cultural exchange could fairly easily be accommodated within fascist Fascist rhetoric of cultural renewal; instead, the regime reacted against the phenomenon when it could no longer avoid perceiving translation as a threatening sign of its own weakness, a sign of the failure of its cultural project. It was for this specific reason, I argue, that the regime intervened when it did, against translation.
|Title of host publication||Studies in Translation History|
|Editors||Lawrence Wang-chi Wong|
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
- translation history
- translation and fascism
- translation and censorship