Translation and the international circulation of literature: A comparative analysis of the reception of Roberto Bolaño's work in Spanish and English

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Abstract

This article analyzes the reception of Roberto Bolaño's novels in Spanish and English from a comparative perspective, in the context of debates about the role of translation in a highly unequal global literary field. Departing from Casanova's theorization of the 'world republic of letters' and tracing the main factors that have shaped the translation of Latin America into English, it focuses on Bolaño's case through an analysis of newspaper reviews published in Spain, Britain and the US. Issues discussed include the periodization of the reception of Bolaño's literature, the proliferation of divergent biographical narratives around Bolaño, and the degree of interconnection between the literary and journalistic fields at the transnational level. Bolaño's case illustrates the importance of translation in the universal consecration of his work and the central role played by the US in this process. It also points to the US's increasingly significant role in the global consecration of autonomous works and not just, as Casanova would claim, of commercial culture, and identifies some key limitations of theories that understand cultural globalization in terms of homogenization or Americanization. © St Jerome Publishing Manchester.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-181
JournalTranslator
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Cultural consecration
  • International circulation of literature
  • Latin American literature
  • Literary translation
  • Newspaper reviews
  • Reception
  • Roberto Bolaño
  • Sociology of translation

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