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In the Workshop of the Translator

Walter Benjamin in/on Translation

Maria Teresa Costa    Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany    



Taking as its starting point Walter Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator, the paper provides insights on both his theory of translation and some of the translations of this essay. In doing so, the author lets the readers enter both Benjamin’s and her translator’s workshop. This process leads to a reflection at a metalevel on the dialectical tension between translator and translation, highlighting a hiatus between the experience of translating and the process of thinking about it. Translation emerges as a process of metamorphosis that lets the original survive in new forms, making us aware that the concept of an absolute singularity does not have any reason to exist, both for works of art and for our life. Thus, translation offers a privileged observation-point from which to reflect upon the concept of “life”, subverting one of the most stable categories of Western philosophy, one which is often taken for granted: the concept of subjectivity. Through the concept and the practice of translation, we become aware that every text, as every existence, is the result of a series of encounters and collisions and should therefore be considered only from the dimension of plurality.

20 Dicembre 2022
12 Dicembre 2022
05 Dicembre 2022

Keywords: HybridisationTranslation’s practiceDifferenceTranslation’s theoryPlurality

Copyright: © 2022 Maria Teresa Costa. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.