Tłumaczenie jako „wojna światów”?

Magdalena Heydel


Translation as a War of the Worlds?
Translation studies and comparative literature as well as literary theory have common
goals, but also common enemies. To prove his point, Edward Balcerzan entitles his
collection of essays Translation as “the War of the Worlds”. On Translatology and
Comparative Literature (Tłumaczenie jako „wojna światów”. W kręgu translatologii
i komparatystyki) and develops his controlling metaphor through a series of engaging
arguments and examples which demonstrate the ongoing struggle in the two disciplines
between the need to order, classify and canonize – which he himself strongly advocates – and the tendency to blur and shift boundaries, visible in postmodernist thought,
deconstruction and intertextuality. The multilingual in translation proves a risky
challenge which insists on recording the traces of foreignness; the monolingual safely
counters the Babel myth and offers evidence that language can be a space for the
coexistence of literary worlds. Whereas it is diffi cult not to appreciate the author’s
subtle and inspiring analyses, which support his well-known claim that translation is an
art (elaborated over the thirty years of his work as a theorist of translation and literature,
translator and poet), one cannot resist asking questions about Balcerzan’s major premise
that translation is a war of the worlds. Should we no longer see translation as a creative
exchange where versions engage in a dialogue, but rather as a military expedition where
every subsequent version wars against all its predecessors as well as the original? If we
accepted that the function of translatology, comparative literature and literary theory
is to sanction unity and order, rather than transgressive abundance, who should decide
on canon-makers and select a single canonical translation? Balcerzan’s controversial
claims deserve attention and should be treated as an invitation to discussion – an
approach which complements the two pointed out by Anthony Pym as typical of
translation studies: confl ict or indifference.

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