„Polish up yourself and be no drag”. O anglojęzycznej literaturze karaibskiej po polsku

Bartosz Wójcik


It is clear that in 2017, 25 years after Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize for Literature and over a decade after V.S. Naipaul’s accolade, the observation of Montserratian E. A. Markham (2001) that Caribbean authors “no longer have to put the old case that the[ir] work is invisibilised” (13) seems even more justified than in 1989 when it was originally made. However, Caribbean literature is still under-represented in Eastern Europe, an error of exclusion that the present paper ventures to discuss.

For decades Polish publishers have been understandably replicating metropolitan canons, zig-zagging between European and American bestsellers. It is only when a Caribbean or Caribbean-British writer gains an international distinction (Walcott, Naipaul) or becomes a worldwide publishing sensation (Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy) that their books are translated. Exceptions to this rule, such as the solitary Polish editions of Caryl Phillips’ A Distant Shore (Muza, 2006), Monique Roffey’s The White Woman on the Green Bicycle (Nasza Księgarnia, 2011) and Kei Miller's The Last Warner Woman (Świat Książki, 2012), or single Francophone Caribbean novels, are few and far between.

 Arguably, it seems that this politics of translation and publishing stems from the systemic, colonially foisted peripherality of West Indian literature, its being sidelined by the cultural production of the UK as well as the USA, which in turn dominates the curricula of English departments in more culturally homogeneous countries such as Poland. However, what constitutes a major problem for the dissemination (and popularity) of Caribbean Creole literature in Polish is exactly what makes West Indian writing so engaging, multi-layered, polyphonous and intertextual – it is the cultural component (for instance, the translation of “Creole folkways”) that is often misread, misconstrued and, as a consequence, mis-rendered. For that reason, using a number of literary sources, the present paper will attempt to showcase a selection of translatological strategies of coping with, to quote Benjamin Zephaniah, “decipher[ing]/de dread chant” into Polish.

Słowa kluczowe: literatura karaibska, kreolizacja, Indie Zachodnie, Kamau Brathwaite, język narodowy

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