Renæssanceforum 14 • 2018

Réka Forrai
Translation as Rewriting: A modern theory for a premodern practice

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One definition of translation in contemporary translation theory claims that rendering a text from one language into another is in fact a form of rewriting. Although this concept was first articulated in the early 1990s, this paper argues that it has much in common with premodern rhetorical ideas of imitation and emulation and can be usefully applied to explain medieval and humanist translation practices. To demonstrate this, I analyze premodern hagiographical and historiographical texts (primarily translations from Greek into Latin) in relation to Gérard Genette's concept of hypertextualité and André Lefevere's theory of translation as rewriting. Juxtaposing modern and premodern theories and practices, I identify and describe connections on both a synchronic level – between various premodern writing modes such as historiography and hagiography and translations of these genres – and a diachronic one, comparing conceptual frameworks from Late Antiquity, the medieval period, and in one instance the Renaissance, with that of contemporary translation theory.