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This report is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

Lost in Translation Daniel Weissbort

In 1973, Paul Engle, who turned the Writers' Workshop in little Iowa City's University of Iowa into a national institution, suggested that it was about time a literary translation programme were instituted. Engle had also founded the International Writing Program [IWP] and it was he who had suggested to Edmund [Mike] Keeley, invited to teach a fiction workshop, that he offer instead a translation workshop, the first one, I think, in the English-speaking world. My boss, Gayatri Spivak, translating Derrida's De la grammatologie, was supportive of Engle's ambitions and my prospects, and I was able to help sell the idea, even to Comp. Lit. by promising theory would have a place. So, when I was offered a job, it was supposedly to teach the History of Translation Theory. I soon discovered, that although, as a Cambridge BA, I had some rudimentary historical knowledge, there was no translation history text-book, even if there were chapters here and there, on Tudor translation; there was also a useful chapter in the famous eleventh edition of the Brittanica. I set about collecting texts...

But this information is already in the Postface to the Historical Reader in Translation Theory and Practice, published by Oxford University Press, the end-result of this process, which began, thus, in the early 1970s, in Iowa City, Mecca of the Midwest. Engle was a pre-deconstructionist man and I, too, was not at ease with French critical theory. He was ...


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