The Book and Beyond

Broj 1 - Godina 2 - 12/2011

Uvodnik

About a year and a half ago, or perhaps it was more, no one seems to remember the exact day anymore, when we decided to start [sic] – a Journal of Literature, Culture and Literary Translation, in our minds we had a small journal that would nevertheless stimulate debates and challenge authors to participate with their contributions in hope of offering a somewhat different view on various topics and themes that we think about in our professional life and work. We hoped for some hundred or perhaps two hundred pages of articles, essays and translations; we counted on contributions from our friends and colleagues from Croatia and secretly dreamed that someone from abroad will find our journal interesting enough to join in. And today, when we are releasing our third issue that counts well over five hundred pages of articles, essays and translations, with more than twenty authors from all over the world, we are safe to say that we more than exceeded our initial expectations and even our wildest hopes. ..

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Izdvojeno

Izvana se začulo kucanje na vrata: jednom. Stanka. I onda malo glasnije i koščatije: dva.Sutulin je, ne podižući se s kreveta, naučenom kretnjom protegnuo nogu prema kucanju, podbočio palac ispod kvake i upro. Vrata su se širom otvorila. Na pragu je, glavom dodirujući dovratnik, stajao visok i pod svjetlom sumraka siv čovjek. Sutulin nije uspio ni spustiti noge s kreveta, a posjetitelj je već zakoračio unutra, tiho pritvorio vrata i, okrznuvši aktovkom koja mu je visjela iz gotovo majmunski dugačke ruke prvo jedan, a zatim i drugi zid, rekao: “Kutija šibica, ni manje ni više.““Što?““Mislim na vašu sobu: kao kutija šibica. Koliko tu ima?““Osam kvadrata i nešto sitno.““Eto ga. Dopuštate?“Sutulin nije uspio ni zaustiti, a posjetitelj je već sjedio na rubu kreveta i brzinski otvorio pretrpanu aktovku. Nastavio je, spustivši glas gotovo do šapta: “Došao sam poslom. Vidite, ja, to jest, mi, radimo, kako da to kažem, neku vrstu eksperimenta. Za sada potajno. Neću vam lagati: za nas je zainteresirana jedna istaknuta inozemna tvrtka. Želite upaliti svjetlo? Nema potrebe: samo par minuta ću. Znači, otkrili smo – iako je to tajna – sredstvo za proširivanje prostorija.“...

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In the past four decades the U.S. cultural scene has witnessed a groundbreaking emergence of a number of Native American writers who have transformed the perception of minority literature, challenging Western audience to reconsider popular stereotypes and received assumptions of indigenous history, identity and culture. Today many of those writers hold prominent positions on popular bestseller and university reading lists, and interest in reading and studying their work is a mainstream trend. Committed to cultural and historical revisionism, they have also expanded the notion of a literary text, and the book as its traditional medium, turning it into a political weapon, a zone of conceptual contact, contestation and dialogue. With his third novel Fools Crow (1986) renowned Blackfeet author James Welch pointed his bow and pen in that direction as well.Set in the 1870s, the period of Indian wars, Fools Crow is a story about the tragedy of Native Americans caused by the coming of the Europeans. It captures the lives of Lone Eaters band of the Pikuni people, one of the bands belonging to the Blackfeet tribe, living on the border between American and Canadian Rocky Mountains. Told from Native American perspective, describing the time of dramatic transformation after encountering the Europeans, the plot of the novel centers around the life of the main character White Man’s Dog, later renamed Fools Crow because of his honorable performance in one of the battles. At the beginning he is just a young teenage boy, eager to finally set up his place as a successful warrior in his tribe. In spite of his initial insecurity and misfortune, he is growing into a successful warrior, hunter, leader, husband, and healer. Even though it seemingly follows Western tradition of the “identity narrative”, Fools Crow is not just a story about the experience and growth of an individual character illustrative of Western narrativity. This novel in many ways affirms Owens’s statement that “contemporary Native American authors are requiring that the readers cross over the conceptual horizon into an Indian world” (20). Right at the beginning, it invites a number of conceptual turns necessary for its understanding and interpretation. Blackfeet expressions and literal translations of words and concepts from the Pikuni culture blend with English sentences, making the novel a linguistic and conceptual amalgam. With no glossary provided, the text forces the reader to acquire the words like Napikwans (white settlers), blackhorn (buffalo), prairie runner (antelope), skunk ear (wolverine), ears-far-apart (owl), elk dog (horse), and accede to an anthropomorphic worldview in which swift silver people (fish) and the deities – Night Red Light (moon), Sun Chief (sun), Seven Persons (a constellation), Earth Mother and Wind Maker – are an integral part of human and earthly events. Throughout the novel, Pikuni words and cosmology continue to suppress Western ones, proving Onion’s thesis that, by inserting Pikuni words, Welch not only translates and mediates between cultures, but also creates a contact zone, invoking and affirming Blackfeet worldview (cf. Onion). ...

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When the news broke out that the military successfully neutralized the most wanted terrorists since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, there was a wave of excitement, thrill, tears and patriotic riots in front of the White House. The Washington Post reports several thousands of young Americans rushing to the fence of the White House, in a spontaneous display of jubilation, dancing and cheering ‘USA!’. Not long passed before there were T-Shirts celebrating Bin Laden’s death being sold. President Obama addressed the nation, claiming that justice has been served. Relief flooded through the American world, even in the euphoric moment, as if they have been searching for some crumb of comfort, or partial closure ever since that awful morning of 9/11. The emotional and psychological wounds of the 9/11 tragedy become thus more evident, from ten years ago, when the image of the great world in its image crushed so profoundly that it become something new, an unknown and fearful of the so-called post-9/11, or – the world of after....

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What does the translator do? Does she transcribe, performing an almost technical function? Or is she an inventor, an interpreter, a kind of singer of lost songs? This is the question Benjamin posed as the translator’s task (Benjamin); here I explore the possibility that translation is liturgy. Translation as either a technical transcription or interpretive intervention neglects its core concern: ethics. Translation is dialogic, speaking from one language to another, yes, but also from a space between languages. The translator voices, though she does not author. The translator’s orientation is always towards respect for another voice – that of the source text. And the translator’s task is always impossible, insofar as total respect (ciphered as total fidelity) gives way to what is inevitably “lost in translation.” Whatever the translator does, she is oriented always towards managing this loss, towards the ethical stakes of this loss. Seen in this light, whether she transcribes or invents becomes a very different question....

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