115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Translation Flows from Japanese Literature into Turkish: A Bibliographical and Critical Survey

Özlem Berk Albachten, Bogazici University

This paper sets out to identify the current position of Japanese literature in the Turkish literary system based on a bibliography of translated works (over 100 titles between 1959-2017) and address the ways translation has functioned as a tool of cultural mediation and literary exchange between Japan and Turkey.

Proposal: 

This paper sets out to identify the current position of Japanese literature in the Turkish literary system based on a bibliography of translated works (over 100 titles between 1959-2017) and address the ways translation has functioned as a tool of cultural mediation and literary exchange between Japan and Turkey.

Since the so-called cultural turn in Translation Studies, scholars have also drawn their attention to the imbalance in the translation trade. This, as has been argued, was the result of the unequal power relationship between central and peripheral languages, allowing translation flows largely from major languages into minor ones. The “dominating” power and literary capital of English in the world literary market (Casanova 2010: 289) and the “hyper-central” position of English in terms of translation flows (Heilbron & Sapiro 2007: 96) have often been discussed within this framework. Accordingly, Japanese and Turkish, with less than 1% of the book translation market, are considered peripheral languages (Heilbron 2010), resulting in minimal translation flows between these two languages.

In fact, until recently, Japan’s culture and literature has to a large extent remained on the sidelines in the Turkish publishing market, which is comprised of about 40% translated works. This paper will discuss some possible reasons for this and problematize certain translational issues, such as the general hypothesis on translation flows based on the position of languages and the notion of centrality and periphery.

Within this framework, the paper will also discuss the role of indirect translations, the recent phenomenon of retranslations, and the influence of the Nobel Prize for Literature over publishers, translators, and readers, as exemplified by the interest shown in Yasunari Kawabata in 1968 and Kenzaburō Ōe, following shortly after their receipt of the prize in 1968 and 1994, respectively.