The MHRA Centenary Lectures

The Centenary Lectures was a series of ten major public lectures, delivered by distinguished speakers at universities across Great Britain and Ireland. Their full text is published here as a lasting record of the Association's Centenary year of 2018.

ContentsPreface by Barbara BurnsImprint page
Lectures by Thomas DohertyElaine TreharneEdwin WilliamsonAlberto ManguelManfred EngelMarina WarnerSusan BassnettMichael CroninAlain Viala

Crossing Textual Boundaries

Why Translation Matters

Professor Susan Bassnett

University of Glasgow


One of the best-known classical Latin poets is Caius Valerius Catullus. He was not considered a major writer by his peers, though his often obscene, witty verse was admired and remained in fashion for some years after his death circa 54 BC, possibly only aged around 30. Then with the end of Roman dominance in Europe and the rise of Christianity, Catullus, with his explicit sexuality and scurrilous lampooning more or less disappeared from view. In his magisterial Edition and Commentary on Catullus, published by OUP in 1961, C. J. Fordyce traces the history of the gradual disappearance of Catullus, and his surprising reappearance somewhere around 1300, when a manuscript of 116 poems came to light in his home city of Verona. It is not clear where the manuscript had come from, though there is a suggestion that it may have been written in France. It disappeared again soon after its discovery, though not before some copies had been made, one of which appears to have been read by Petrarch. There is also an epigram in one of the manuscripts that survived, with words spoken by a fictitious Catullus who declares that a manuscript of his poems was restored to his home city by a fellow-countryman. Fordyce cites textual evidence for the existence of the manuscript: in the late thirteenth century a lawyer from Padua, one Heironimias de Montagnone, copied seven extracts from Catullus into an anthology, the Compendium Moralium Notabilium, while in 1329 an anonymous Veronese included part of poem 22 in his Liber Florum Moralium Auctoritatum. Fordyce notes with a touch of irony: “So, in the unexpected role of a moral preceptor, which he is made to share with Ovid and Martial, Catullus entered the modern world” (Fordyce, 1961 :xxvi).

Catullus’ fame in the modern world has most certainly not been as a moral preceptor. In 2009 a bizarre court case was reported in The Guardian with the headline “Catullus still shocks 2,000 years on’.1 The article was a report of an industrial tribunal in which a man was accused of having sent an obscene text message to a female colleague, a message consisting of a line from Catullus. The line was considered so shocking that the BBC refused to translate it, and good old Fordyce had omitted it from his edition.(He omitted quite a few other poems too, some 32 in all which he felt were unsuitable for readers.) The Guardian’s reporter notes that in 1989 three of Catullus’ poems were removed from the A-level syllabus as being too disgusting.for schoolchildren. This prurience was a continuation of Victorian attitudes to anything deemed immoral.

Fig. 1. Sir Richard Burton's Carmen XVI

For example, after his death, the translation of Catullus’ poetry by Sir Richard Burton — a man known for translating such works as the Kama Sutra, The Perfumed Garden and a very explicit version of the Thousand and One Nights — was edited by his prudish wife, Isabel. Her tactic was to substitute asterisks for all offending words, a strategy only marginally less drastic than that employed by the early editors of the Loeb Classical Library. The Loeb editions, I remind you, were bilingual, but when a text was deemed too risqué, it was simply left in the original Latin or Greek. I still remember as a student opening a Loeb edition of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria and realising with astonishment what the editors had done.

Literary history is full of curious examples of texts that appear and disappear, texts that change their nature through time as they are read differently in different contexts. How many people today have read any of the best-selling novels of the eccentric 19th-century writer Marie Corelli, author of such works as The Sorrows of Satan, The Mighty Atom or Thelma, a Norwegian Princess? Corelli was much admired by Queen Victoria but her florid style and exaggerated plots did not stand the test of time and although in her heyday she outsold Kipling and Conan Doyle, by the time of her death in 1924 her popularity had faded. But she continues to enjoy a reputation on the other side of the world, for in 1902 her novel Vendetta became the first English novel to be translated into Thai by Phraya Surinthoracha, and so her work entered into the Thai literary system. Students in Thailand have become used to Corelli as an important English author, or so I have been told.

Fig. 2. Marie Corelli titles at the online bookstore include The Murder of Delicia, in the อมราวดี แปล นวนิยายไทย series

Similarly, Jack London is a canonical writer in Russia today, and in the countries of the former USSR. Why, we might ask, since in the Anglophone world we tend to think of Jack London as the author of two best-selling stories abut noble dogs, The Call of the Wild (1903) and White Fang (1906), that is, as a writer of adventure stories read mainly (if at all) by children. Like Marie Corelli, Jack London was a best-selling international author in his lifetime, but it was his socialist ideas and writings that made him increasingly popular in post-revolutionary Russia. Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya recounts in her book about her husband how she had read the dying Lenin some of London’s short stories, notably ‘Love of Life’. Such was London’s stardom in the USSR that there was even a lake named after him in 1932.

Fig. 3. Jack London Lake, which is to be found in the remote Annachag Mountains in far north-eastern Russia

Texts travel — they travel across geographical, temporal, cultural and linguistic boundaries. It is often not clear how those textual journeys happen, even less clear why they happen. There is an unpredictability factor in literary history which we should not ignore, though the role of translation here is a vital one. The global success of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books must have astounded, and later appalled, those publishers who turned down her manuscript (12 of them), before Bloomsbury offered her £1200 as an advance in 1996. Not only has her work become a world-wide phenomenon, but it has led to countless spin-offs and there is a huge multilingual Harry Potter fan fiction network out there on the internet. Similarly, and by coincidence also in 1996, the American writer George R. R. Martin published the first of a series of fantasy novels, A Song of Fire and Ice. The title of that novel was A Game of Thrones. The first episode of the TV series, Game of Thrones, premiered in the US in April 2011, and as with Harry Potter, nobody predicted its global success. It has not only transformed the screen industry in Northern Ireland, but Game of Thrones has now become a marketing instrument for Tourism Ireland.2

Of course marketing plays a significant role in the diffusion and popularity of texts, but before marketing come the texts themselves, and here the role played by translation is crucially important. Indeed, we could argue that cultural history is all about translation: think of the way in which early Christian and Buddhist sacred texts were disseminated, think of the way in which the culture of Ancient Rome derived from that of Ancient Greece, think of the spread of ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe in the 18th century, think of Modernism in the early 20th century, all ages long before the communications revolution of our own time when we can send a text from Australia to Sweden in less time than it takes us to write it. But here too translation is a vital factor. Michael Cronin, one of the leading figures working in Translation Studies today, looks at some of the vast planetary changes in communication of the last few years and comments that:

The digital may deliver information to the other side of the planet in seconds, but if the language is different, the virtual letters are dead letters. In a multilingual world, translation is the necessary companion of the global outreach of the virtual. (Cronin, 2017: 95)

Cronin makes this point in his 2017 book, Eco-translation, subtitled: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene. Cronin’s argument is that since translation underpins human communication, it is essential for anyone studying translation to be aware of the radically changing environmental circumstances of today’s world. He cites as an example the 2010 Haiti earthquake search and rescue exercise where one of the biggest problems was language. The solution that was found was to set up a collaborative translation network online where messages posted on the site could be read by bilingual Haitian Creole speakers around the world who could then join in the process of translation and work together. Cronin suggests that it was this globally collaborative nature of translation that saved lives. Through understanding the specific forms and usage of language in one particular place but drawing upon knowledge from across the world, effective translation could take place and hence effective action resulted.

Other eminent translation studies experts are thinking along similar lines. Edwin Genztler’s latest book has the provocative title Translation and Rewriting in the Age of Post-Translation Studies (2016). Gentzler, like Bella Brodkzi and Sherry Simon, two other key researchers in the field, is not proposing that translation studies is now a dead discipline, but rather that we should recognise that translation is of such fundamental importance that it needs to be rethought as ‘an always-ongoing process of every communication’. Genztler asks:

What if translation becomes viewed less as a temporal act carried out between languages and cultures and instead as a precondition underlying the languages and cultures upon which communication is based? What if we consider the political, social and economic structures as built upon translation? (Genztler, 2016: 5)

These sound like big questions, but my response is simply that of course translation is a precondition for all communication. Translation does not only take place across foreign languages, it takes place within the same language, and it takes place across other forms than the written or oral. Whether we realise it or not, we are all engaged every day in some form of translational activity. When we adjust our language to changing circumstances — we probably do not use four letter words when addressing our Grannies or going for a job interview, for example — what we are doing is translating, albeit within the same language. And when we look at the painting by Caravaggio of Judith decapitating Holofernes, we are looking at a visual translation of a story from the Old Testament, or if we go to the theatre and see a production of Oliver, we are seeing a translation into theatrical form of a novel by Charles Dickens.

Fig. 4. Caravaggio translates Judith 13: 6-8. In the King James Version, a translation made in another country only ten years later, the text reads: "Then she came to the pillar of the bed, which was at Holofernes' head, and took down his fauchion from thence, | And approached to his bed, and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, this day. | And she smote twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took away his head from him."


In a book which can, with hindsight, be seen as a kind of manifesto for translation studies, Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame (1992/2017), André Lefevere argued that interlingual translation should be seen as just one of many forms of ‘rewriting’, all of which are manipulative and subject to ideological constraints:

Whether they produce translations, literary histories or their more compact spin-offs, reference works, anthologies, criticism, or editions, rewriters adapt, manipulate the originals they work with to some extent, usually to make them fit in with the dominant, or one of the dominant ideological and poetological currents of their time. (Lefevere, 2017: 6)

Lefevere was one of the pioneers of Translation Studies, which as an academic subject is a recent phenomenon, starting out in the 1970s. Of course prior to that decade there had been a great deal of commentary and theorising about what happens in translation, and a great deal of research into the complexities of translating, but the term ‘translation studies’ did not exist and was only coined by the American translator/poet James Holmes in 1972. The term was then popularised by a small international group of scholars meeting in Belgium and the Netherlands who were dissatisfied both with what was perceived as an overly narrow approach to translation within Linguistics and a dismissive attitude towards translation, seen as second-class writing, within literary studies. This group, later known as the polysystems group, or the Manipulation School after the publication of an important collection of essays in 1985, The Manipulation of Literature, had as their aim to raise the profile and status of translation through the systematic study of how, why and when translations take place. The layperson’s view of translation is that it involves the transfer of something produced in one language (or one sign system) into another, but the moment we start to look more closely at the process of transfer, it becomes obvious that far more than the linguistic is involved.

For example, not all languages lay claim to the same power and status, as literary and cultural history show. We need only look at the dominance of English in the world today, and consider the gap between translations out of English and translations into English to realise that. Only a very small percentage of the book market in the USA and the UK is made up of translations, unlike countries such as Italy. In 2015, for example,1.5% of books published in the UK were translations, with only 7% of the fiction published. Compare that to Germany where translated fiction accounted for 12.28%, France where it was 15.9% and Italy where it reached 19.7%. As many translation studies scholars have pointed out, the translation relationships between minority and majority languages cannot be divorced from issues of power and identity. Though it is worth noting here that research into the world book market is raising some interesting questions about minority/majority language patterns. The global success of Nordic Noir writers such as the Swedish Stieg Larsen or the Norwegian Jo Nesbø, whose books sell in tens of millions shows that writers working in languages deemed outside the mainstream can compete with English or French language writers. The holder of the Guinness Book of Records for the most translated living author is the Brazilian Paolo Coelho, whose work can be read in 67 languages. The book that made his name was The Alchemist, published in a mere 900 copies in Brazil in 1987, but which then became a global best-selling phenomenon after being translated in 1994 into English and marketed by Harper Collins.

Translation is never a straightforward, innocent activity, for all kinds of reasons. For a start, translators are individuals with their own opinions, and every translation is effectively, the product of one translator’s reading. If a dozen people are given the same text to translate, they will produce a dozen variations. This means that there are always going to be some people who complain about the ‘accuracy’ of a translation because it does not happen to match their individual reading and interpretation. Moreover, there are many other agents involved in the production and dissemination of translations- publishing houses, funding bodies, advertisers, and in earlier times patrons of the arts, not to mention censors who can vet translations to ensure that the wrong kind of material is not being imported. Early translations of the novels of Émile Zola, for example, were heavily censored to remove offensive passages about sex, and I once saw a copy of Erasmus’ In Praise of Folly in the library at Salamanca University, where a censor had painstakingly inked out all those passages that were deemed to hint at heresy! (Thereby showing exactly where the danger spots were, of course). And one basic aspect of translation, which has caused anxiety for centuries is the plain fact that we have to take translations on trust: if we want to read something written in a language that we do not know, we have to rely on a translator. No wonder then that so often over the ages translators have been mistrusted, often accused of betrayal and treachery, and have been attacked and persecuted: the history of Bible translation is fraught with horror stories — Jan Hus and William Tyndale were burned at the stake, to name but two of the best-known — and in 1991 Hitoshi Igorashi, the Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, was brutally murdered. Translation is indeed never an innocent activity.


As the new field of Translation Studies began to grow, it followed a pattern with which we are familiar. As happened with other subjects emerging at the same time, such as women and gender studies or postcolonial studies, one important line of research was historical: the feminist ‘hidden from history’ phrase can be equally applied to translation studies. Research into the history of translations is still very important, and is changing our ideas about literary history, particularly in relation to national literary histories. As has often been pointed out, 19th- and early 20th-century literary historians tended to ignore translation, partly because they were intent on creating a national narrative with home-grown roots and origins, therefore dismissing anything seen as imported. During the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century it was fashionable to conceive of literary systems in nationalistic terms, a tendency that distorted literary canons in the interest of demonstrating that a culture did not need to ‘import’ foreign texts through translation. An extreme example of where nationalist literary studies can lead is the case of Heinrich Heine in Nazi Germany. Heine, as Lefevere points out, did not appear in anthologies of German poetry published between 1933 and 1945, and even his classic poem, learned by heart by German children, ‘Lorelei’, was labelled as anonymous.3 There could be no space for a Jewish poet in an anti-semitic culture.

We know that with very rare exceptions (and then only for brief periods) no literature can close itself off from other literatures. The ideology of national ‘roots’ and origins may have sought to downplay the significance of translations (attacked as foreign migrants, undesirable foreign influences) yet translations have been a continuous traffic of export and import in cycles of what today we might term global flows: Italian sources filtered through translations to Shakespeare, whose works in turn filtered through to Pushkin, whose impact on later Russian literature was immense, then Russian writers filtered back into English through translations. (Constance Garnett is Tolstoy for millions of English language readers.) The great familiar figures of Don Juan, Faust, Ulysses, Medea and Electra, endlessly reappearing in different languages across the world, in poetry, plays and novels, all travel through translation. As Carlos Fuentes says:

Is there a fatherless book, an orphan volume in this world? A book that is not the descendant of other books? A single leaf of a book that is not an offshoot of the great genealogical tree of mankind’s literary imagination? (Fuentes 1988: 76)

Establishing an alternative history that showed the importance of translated imports was therefore a priority for the emergent field and continues to be an important aspect of Translation Studies. A logical next stage was then to focus on the figure of the translator, that invisible or shadowy figure often depicted as scurrying about in the no-man’s land between languages and cultures. The ‘visibility’ or otherwise of the translator was much discussed in the 1990s, as were issues of identity in relation to translation. Lawrence Venuti’s book, The Translator’s Invisibility, subtitled A History of Translation, which came out in 1995, focussed attention on the ways in which translators had been marginalised, neglected or brushed out of history. Venuti’s call to arms was for translators to make their presence in a text more visible, ideally by drawing attention to the foreign origins of that text by encoding signs of its foreignness as opposed to the strategy of ‘domestication’ whereby a text is read as though written originally in the readers’ own language. Venuti’s argument was that domestication renders the translator even more invisible, as signs of the foreign origins of a work are elided. Venuti has been extremely influential as a scholar of translation, though he acknowledges that his ideas have been misrepresented by crudely simplifying a distinction he borrowed from the German Romantic scholar, Friedrich Schleiermacher to read: foreignness equals good, domestication equals bad. If that were the case, translated ‘foreignised’ novels would be impossible for general readers to read.

Improving the visibility of the translator can be done in many ways. One of the most obvious is to ensure that the name of the translator is given due recognition. In the UK, reviewers have been extremely bad at this, all too often writing about a translated novel or play as though it had been written in English and not giving credit to the translator. The relatively lower status of the translator, as Venuti and others attest, also means that translators are often poorly paid. Today, though, more literary prizes such as the Man Booker International (which succeeded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) or the IMPAC Dublin prize are rewarding both the original writer and the translator, which is a great step forward.


Attention is also now starting to be paid to the growing number of writers who are working in more than one language, sometimes translating their own writing, like Nancy Huston, Rosario Ferré or Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. Sometimes writers choose to write in another language as the result of a move to another country, as Vladimir Nabokov or Milan Kundera did; sometimes they deliberately choose to write in another language, as Joseph Conrad did, or as Jhumpa Lahiri has done recently, when she began to write in Italian, a language she was still learning. And as the phenomenon of the multi-lingual writer becomes more widely known, so we can also see that across the ages many writers have opted to create in more than one language — think of how many medieval and Renaissance writers, from Dante through to Milton, wrote in both Latin and their own vernacular. Here academic classification constructed on nationalist grounds does not help: is Ungaretti an Italian or a French writer, for example? Why does the bilingual poet Charles, Duke of Orleans, never feature in English literary history? In thinking about John Milton as a great English poet, what should we do with his Latin writing?

Fig. 5. Nabokov's statue outside the Montreux Palace Hotel, where he resided from 1961 until his death in 1977

Shirley Geok-lin Lim is a Malaysian Chinese writer and scholar, whose award-winning memoir, Among the White Moon Faces, was published in 1997.

Fig. 6. Shirley Geok-lin Lim

Lim chose to write in English, despite acknowledging it to be the language of colonialism, rather than in her other two languages, Malay and Hokkien, pointing out that ‘language choice is never so simple as political scientists and cultural studies scholars have argued’ (Lim, 2003: 45). Her life between languages, she argues, ‘cannot be reified as between colonised and indigenous elements or reduced to collusion and complicity with global power (Lim, 2003: 45). She goes on to argue that it is easier to see and discuss shifts of register within one language, but far harder to try and understand what happens when a writer is negotiating shifts between two completely different languages, such as, in her case, American English and Hokkien.

The interest in self-translation fits in with increased awareness across literary and cultural studies in hybridity. We are living in an age when more people are in movement around the planet than at any other time in human history, and when people move they take their languages and cultural practices with them. Then, as they encounter other languages and other cultures, cross-fertilisation starts to happen. Some 25 years ago Homi Bhabha, in his essay ‘How Newness enters the world’, used translation as a metaphor for the newness of the global migrancy of the late 20th century, and his use of the terminology of translation to discuss encounters between cultures in that new kind of space where interlingual encounter is part of daily life serves also to remind us of a growing interest in translation around the world.

Implicit in that growing interest are also some basic questions that have begun to receive much more attention, questions around the authority of a translation and the ethics of translating. A recent collection of essays entitled Translating Holocaust Lives explores some of the ethical issues around the translation of highly sensitive texts, written and oral that arise from an experience of trauma. In his chapter, Peter Davies examines possible conflicting views on the very nature of translation that are discernible within Holocaust Studies, on the one hand, and Translation Studies on the other. In the former, what matters is the respectful reproduction of a personal testimony so as to ensure that ‘the voices of the victims take centre stage in interpretation and commemoration of the Holocaust’ (Davies, 2017: 23). Whereas in the latter, the field has moved away from ideas of equivalence and fidelity to a more complex position that views the agency of the translator as embedded in a broader network of other agencies and stresses the freedom of the translator as ‘rewriter’. How, then, to reconcile these two seemingly opposite positions? Researchers are just starting to look at a whole range of similar ethical problems associated with translation, such as the role of translators working in conflict zones, in refugee camps or as guides in former concentration camps. Non-profit organisations such as Translators without Borders expose the difficulties faced by translators, who are as essential as doctors and other aid workers in troubled parts of the world.4

Here the issue regarding translation is the extent to which a translator can serve as the conduit through which a traumatic experience is expressed, which takes us dangerously close to the old idea that a translator should be invisible. But translators too are sentient beings and cannot but interpret what they translate, since every translator is the product of a particular culture, time and place, which means that every translation is the result of choices made by that translator, which will differ from choices made by another translator.

The great Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, in his essay on the centuries of multiple translations of Homer, ‘The Homeric Versions’ asks us to consider the impossibility of a single authoritative translation of any text: ‘Are not the many versions of the Iliad… merely different perspectives of a mutable fact, a long experimental game of chance played with omissions and emphases?’ (Borges 2002: 15). He rejects the idea of a definitive translation of anything, arguing that there can only be versions, or, as he puts it, drafts. All great works that we turn to time after time can seem unalterable and invariable, but what translation shows is that there is always a moment of re-creation that reflects the diverse perspectives of different translators and so disproves the myth of an invariable, ‘sacred’ text.

It is also essential to remember that readers too have a vital role to play. In his book on The Poetry of Translation Matthew Reynolds argues that literary texts are indeterminate in that they are only realised through readings, hence translation can ‘only provide a loose approximation to a source text which is already untrammelled in loose approximations in its own language’ (Reynolds 2011: 27). This is an eminently sensible approach to translation. Reynolds acknowledges that readings are infinitely variable and change over time, as readers’ contexts change,and aesthetic criteria change. The 19th-century use of archaisms in fiction and in translation, for example, is completely unacceptable today, and we have difficulty ploughing through works written in mock-medieval language. We also have ideological difficulties with some texts since attitudes towards language also change. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, for example, once seen as a work attacking racism has come in recent years to be seen as the opposite, due to the use of the N-word throughout. In 2011 a new edition of the book replaced that word with ‘slave’ to accommodate contemporary readers, effectively ‘translating’ the novel for another age.5

The translation of writings from the past into forms that are acceptable to contemporary social norms is another prominent area of interest within Translation Studies, and here the question is the extent to which translators can reshape works that have become canonical over time. Borges refers to Homer, and I started this lecture with Catullus, and increasingly translators are asserting their right to interpret works written centuries ago in ways that can sometimes lead purists to make accusations of ‘unfaithfulness’. Josephine Balmer, one of the contemporary translators of Catullus, refers to her versions as ‘transgressions’, but justifies what she does on the ground that there are no definitive originals of ancient works. She asks:

If we do not know how or why an author wrote a work, of we do not know when they lived or who they were, if we cannot even agree on their gender, as is sometimes the case, then we can be far freer in our interpretation of the original text (Balmer 2006: 186).

What we have today when we consider texts from earlier times is the product of centuries of transcribing, editing, commentary and translations, so how can any translator be ‘faithful’ to a text that has undergone so many metamorphoses in its long lifetime? The American poet/translator Eliot Weinberger sums up the issue rather well:

The transformations that take shape in print, that take the formal name of ‘translation’, become their own beings, set out on their own wanderings. Some live long, and some don’t. What kind of creatures are they? What happens when a poem, once Chinese and still Chinese, becomes a piece of English, Spanish, French poetry? (Weinberger 1987: 1).

Here Weinberger effectively sums up in just a few words what translation studies is all about: transformations that set out on new journeys in a new culture, acquiring new readers and a new life. What kind of creatures are translations, he asks, a question that still remains to be answered.


Today we are able to reassess the significance of translation, both as a cultural and linguistic practice that is enabling so many millions of people to make their lives in different contexts from the one in which they were born. Translation is important because it compels us to reflect on what we understand by ‘origin’ and ‘originality’, both socially and in terms of literary practice. Studying translation serves to remind us that there are infinite possible readings of a text, just as translation also reminds us that aesthetic criteria change over time, so there can be no single, definitive interpretation of any text. Translation compels us to think dialectically, because there is always a relationship of some kind between source and target readings and rewritings, but perhaps most importantly, translation shows that there has always been contact between cultures and consequently between literatures, for literatures do not develop in isolation. The twenty-first century, that is witnessing movement of people on a greater scale than at any time in human history is, indeed, an age when translation can finally be given the respect and attention it deserves.

Given at the Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre, Glasgow, 11 October 2018; © Susan Bassnett 2018


1The Guardian, 24 November 2009. See; and for further background, see Winter, Thomas Nelson, ‘Catullus Purified: A Brief History of Carmen 16’, Digital Commons @ University of Nebraska - Lincoln (1973), online here (accessed 12 July 2020).↩︎

2On a personal note, the hotel which is hosting my daughter’s wedding reception on the Northern Irish coast announces with pride that it has one of the 10 Game of Thrones doors carved from trees damaged by storm Gertrude in 2016. The trees were part of the Dark Hedges in County Antrim, known as the Kingsroad in the TV series, and the 'Game of Thrones experience filter' at has details of where the doors are now located and what they signify to fans (accessed 12 July 2020).↩︎

3By 1938, it may have been prohibited entirely; the New York Times reported on 15 November that "Germany's best-known folk song, "Lorelei," has been banned by the Nazi Educational Department because the words were written by a Jew, Heinrich Heine." See (accessed 12 July 2020).↩︎

4As this lecture was being prepared for online publication, the home page was leading with: "Help use language to fight COVID-19".↩︎

5'Slave' is itself now a troubling word in more metaphorical usage, and as of 2020 there is a gathering movement to purge the terms 'slave' and 'master' throughout the source code of computer programs. See for example, ‘Master/Slave’ Terminology Was Removed from Python Programming Language, and BBC News, GitHub abandons 'master' term to avoid slavery row (accessed 12 July 2020).↩︎

Further reading

Balmer, Josephine, Catullus. Poems of Love and Hate (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe, 2004)

Balmer, Josephine, ‘What comes next? Reconstructing the classics’, in Susan Bassnett and Peter Bush (eds), The Translator as Writer (London: Continuum, 2006), pp. 184-95

Bassnett, Susan, Translation (London and New York: Routledge, 2014)

Bassnett, Susan, Translation Studies, 4th edn (London and New York: Routledge, 2013)

Belllos, David, Is that a Fish in your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2004)

Bhabha, Homi, The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 1994)

Boase-Beier, Jean, Peter Davies, Andrea Hammel and Marion Winters, eds, Translating Holocaust Lives (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)

Brodzki, Bella, Can These Bones Live? Translation, Survival and Cultural Memory (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007)

Borges, Jorge Luis, ‘The Homeric Versions’, in Daniel Balderston and Marcy E. Schwartz (eds), Voice-Overs. Translation and Latin American Literature (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002), pp. 15-21

Cordingley, Anthony, ed., Self-Translation. Brokering Originality in Hybrid Culture (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)

Cronin, Michael, Eco-Translation: Translation and Ecology in the Age of the Anthropocene (London and New York: Routledge, 2017)

Even-Zohar, Itamar, ‘The Position of Translated Literature in the Literary Polysystem’, in Lawrence Venuti (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 2000 (1978)), pp. 192-97

Fordyce, C. J., Catullus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961)

Fuentes, Carlos, transl. Lysander Kemp, Aura (London: Andre Deutsch, 1988)

Gentzler, Edwin, Translation and Rewriting in the Age of Post-Translation Studies (London and New York: Routledge, 2016)

Geok-Lim, Shirley, ‘The Im/possibility of Life-Writing in Two Languages in Isabelle de Courtivron’, in Shirley Geok-Lim (ed), Lives in Translation. Bilingual Writers on Identity and Creativity (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), pp. 39-38

Hermans, Theo, ed., The Manipulation of Literature (London: Croom Helm, 1985)

Holmes, James, ‘The Name and Nature of Translation Studies’ in Lawrence Venuti (ed.), The Translation Studies Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 1972), pp. 172-85

Lefevere, André, Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame (London and New York: Routledge, 1992)

Reynolds, Matthew, The Poetry of Translation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Venuti, Lawrence, The Translator’s Invisibility. A History of Translation (London and New York: Routledge, 1995)

Weinberger, Eliot, and Octavio Paz, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (Mt Kisco, New York: Moyer Bell, 1987)

Wolf, Michaela, ed., Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps (London: Bloomsbury, 2016)