The Translator

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Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar, Saliha Paker and John
Milton, Tradition, tension and translation in Turkey
Senem Öner
To cite this article: Senem Öner (2016) Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar, Saliha Paker and John
Milton, Tradition, tension and translation in Turkey, The Translator, 22:3, 382-386, DOI:
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2016. ‘Transition and Transformation’ and ‘The Republican Revolutionary Turn: Ideology and Politics’. in the Ottoman/Turkish context. Paris: Gallimard. 1993. References Deleuze. Tout-monde. Paris: Edition de Minuit. The volume includes an introduction by the editors which offers a brief outline of the key stages of Turkish translation history and a detailed account of the current scholarship on translation in Turkey. the book vividly illustrates how. G. Translated and edited by Yaël Rachel Schlick. London: Routledge. L. and thus to rethink the labels ‘imitative’ and ‘uninventive’ associated with Ottoman poetics in order to recognise practices of creative/inventive mediation as expressed with the notion of telif (creative mediation).00 (hardback). Poétique de la relation. Saliha Paker and John Milton. One such tension is scrutinised by Saliha Paker in the opening essay of the volume. (e-book) ISBN 9789027268471 Tradition. Foucault. Venuti. €95. This distinction also underlies her argument that the condemnation of Ottoman poetry as ‘imitative’ and ‘uninventive’ by the pioneers of modern Turkish poetics and New Literature was made conceptually possible by the ‘new poetics based on the European idea of the individual “genius” and “original”’ (47). Amsterdam and Philadelphia. 2015. What renders Paker’s contribution extremely significant and innovative is her call to recognise the longignored distinction between the Islamic conception of the Qur’anic Original (as the immutable Word of God) and European conceptions of the original. . the “inimitable” poetic text’ (40) would lie at the heart of the analysis (31–32).schmidt-melbye@ntnu. edited by Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar. tension and translation in Turkey. the cause and the result of continuous change and (trans/re)formation. Venuti. Essay on Exoticism. 1995/ Inger Hesjevoll Schmidt-Melbye Norwegian University of Science and Technology inger. generating tensions in various aspects of the literary. ISBN 9789027258595. NC: Duke University Press. As a whole. Paker proposes that a new framework be established for a theory of Ottoman literary translation in which the Islamic conception of ‘Qur’an as the Original. which were defended by the pioneers as they rushed to cut ties with tradition in an era noted for major attempts at westernisation/modernisation.1080/13556509. Tension and Translation in Turkey presents an unprecedentedly comprehensive and substantial analysis of the translational practices and concepts in Ottoman times and modern Turkey. Paris: Gallimard. The introduction is followed by 14 articles chronologically and thematically organised into three sections: ‘Ottoman Conceptions and Practices of Translation’.no © 2016 Inger Hesjevoll Schmidt-Melbye http://dx. Problematising the prevailing scholarly discourse on the ‘imitativeness’ and ‘uninventiveness’ of Ottoman poetry. The Scandals of Translation: Towards an ethics of difference.1181246 Tradition. John Benjamins. cultural and social realms. The Translator’s Invisibility: A history of translation.hesjevoll. Glissant. Durham.doi. É. Segalen. translation has historically and simultaneously been the means. 1986. 1998. É. Glissant. 1990. 2002. London: Routledge. 2nd ed.382 BOOK REVIEWS Édouard Glissant (as quoted in Sandra Bermann’s essay): ‘not knowing the totality is not a weakness [but] not wanting to know most certainly is’ (78). L. V.

social and political visions originating from the West’ (84) in his critical remarks. this example illustrates the peculiar conceptualisation of tercüman as the ‘chosen’ transmitter of divine knowledge. The function of translation in the early years of the Turkish republican era is defined by Seyhan as follows: ‘During these years of momentous transition and transformation. The article titled ‘German Academic Culture in Turkish Exile’ by Azade Seyhan examines the role translation played as a means of communication as well as a ‘force of intervention’ (111) within the frame of the modernisation and westernisation initiatives of the Turkish state. Bengi Öner reconstructed the translational norms in his translation and re-evaluated translation equivalence by reconceptualising and redefining various practices of translation in the Ottoman context (1988. a painful transition period which gave rise to a wide array of tensions directly and/or indirectly reflected in translational practices in Turkey. from a translation studies perspective. The eventual ban of Ahmet Midhat’s retranslation by Sultan Abdülhamit II is. Akbatur analyses the preface of the book titled Fusus al-Hikam by the famous Muhyiddin Ibn al-Arabi (1165–1240) who refers to himself as the mütercim (translator) not the mütehakkim (author) of his own book. 1990). Akbatur demonstrates that in Islamic mysticism tercüman stands for both prayer and ‘a person. ‘Enlightenment’s fractured critical legacy’ (113) was transported to the Turkish system where the act of interpreting enabled ‘a civilizational survival’ (113). explores the heavy involvement in translation of the Turkish Republic as a newly founded nation-state. Ahmet Midhat’s practices were previously studied by Işın Bengi Öner in her doctoral thesis (Bengi Öner 1990). In addition to being an insightful grasp . drawing attention to Midhat’s role as an ‘eloquent mediator’ between West and East. telling within the broader historical context of Ottoman westernisation. translation both in a literal and figurative sense. a culture-bound concept in Islamic mysticism. who has the role of a transmitter/mediator between the physical world and the metaphysical world. the powerful/popular author-translator of the period. between the esoteric and the exoteric and between the unknown and the known. Bringing a fresh dimension to the contemporary discussion on the metaphorics of translation from a thirteenth-century case. who. As the last contribution in the section on the Ottoman translation history. Taking up tercüman (translator). ‘Transition and Transformation’. which is the first descriptive study on his works carried out within translation studies. concepts. which comes to the translator through revelation. Hulâsa-i Hümâyunnâme (Summary of the Book for the Emperor).THE TRANSLATOR 383 The tension engendered by the Islamic conception of the Original echoes in another article by Arzu Akbatur. As a very interesting usage of the concept. the article by Zehra Toska presents a case of imperial patronage and censorship. It is also noteworthy that such a culture-bound conceptualisation simultaneously implies both the empowerment of the translator and his/her nullity as an author against the power of the divine Original. Such tensions pertinent to the transition period and the republican era concern the articles in the remaining two sections of the volume. boldly intervened to comment on the political debates of the time and to refer to ‘new value judgements. as Toska’s analysis shows. literally from one civilization to another. thus. which is a major tensionproducing factor in the realm of translation. became a key pillar of the architecture of modernization’ (110). via the educational activities of the émigré professors. who is a kind of “mediator” between God and humans’ (57). saying that it was given to him by the Prophet Muhammad in a dream (61). a saint or dervish. the article displays how the distinction between translation and non-translation is blurred in a translational practice carried out by Ahmet Midhat. which is an original contribution to the metaphorics of translation. The second section. Drawing on an intriguing case of retranslation commissioned and later banned by Sultan Abdülhamit II. Through the critical analysis of the paratextual elements surrounding the literary translations of Ahmet Midhat. The author argues that.

Her essay is particularly notable as an original account where one can trace how the absence and existence of a nation’s self-confidence is historically reflected in its relationship with translation. the self and the other. a premise which attests to another tension in the Turkish context caused by ‘translated’ theories of translation. this ideological polarisation is foreshadowed in the critical contribution by Yasemin Alptekin. This brings to mind a critical approach previously voiced by Ayşe Banu Karadağ regarding the absence of the term/concept ‘civilisation’ as an explanatory tool in the historical/theoretical research on the relationship between translation and Turkish modernisation. The tension aroused from the association of the east with the old and the west with the new. However. giving rise to a heated debate on the role/visibility of ideology in translation. It is noteworthy that in this specific case of intralingual translation. what was desired to be erased in the early years of the Republic struck back in the cultural and ideological environment that emerged (in later years) when a political party associated with Islamism and political Islam came to power (243). later publishing congresses emphasised the ‘promotion and reinforcement of Turkish culture’ (134). the reason for the ignorance of this specific concept might be the emphasis on the term/concept ‘culture’ in the existing studies that take Itamar Even-Zohar’s approach as a basis (Karadağ 2008. a relationship that marks the limit between the domestic and the foreign. which was reflected in the nationalist culture planning endeavours of the Turkish nation-state. In a completely opposite (though not surprising) vein. which Tahir Gürçağlar interprets as ‘Turkey’s growing cultural self-confidence’ (125). is highlighted in the contribution by Özlem Berk Albachten. who provides a comparative look at the translation-related phenomena in the early republican era and the later historical periods through an analysis of the censorship of ‘obscene’ . and particularly the east and the west in the present cases under scrutiny. The first two congresses that took place in the early republican era instrumentalised translation as a means of ‘cultural modernization’ (130) and the importation of western intellectual culture. together with the Turkish episteme. The author defines the prevailing approach for intralingual translations as ‘the replacement of certain words thought to be “old” or unacceptable by the current republican ideology by their “pure” Turkish equivalents’ (178). She scrutinises the clash between the official republican ideology and the opposition. secular nation-state’s radical attempts at erasing the linguistic elements pertaining to and reminiscent of the Ottoman past. The article focuses on the practice of intralingual translations carried out after the Turkish Language Reform and the change of alphabet from Arabic to Latin script in 1928. constituted the Ottoman interculture as argued by Saliha Paker (49) – became ‘foreign’ and something to be suddenly purified in parallel with the modern. The state’s approach to translation is discussed in another contribution by İrem Üstünsöz. For Karadağ. ‘old’ referred to the words of Arabic and Persian origin. focusing on how the term ‘progressive’ was rendered or not rendered in the translations of John Dewey’s 1924 report on Turkish education. 103–104). the above statement also underlines the civilisational tension inherent in the history of translation in Turkey. They also made a call to translate Turkish cultural products into foreign languages and thus reversed the desired direction of translation flow. The Turkish nation-state’s direct involvement in the field of translation is scrutinised in the article by Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar. Such reference illustrates an ideological framework where Arabic and Persian – two epistemes that. This conceptualisation/perception of translation is perhaps quite similar to the conceptualisation undertaken by the German Romantics as examined by Antoine Berman (1992). as the contribution by Esra Birkan Baydan (‘Islamic Retranslations of the Western Classics’) demonstrates.384 BOOK REVIEWS of translation’s role in the Turkish case. Indeed. who focuses on the five national publishing congresses held between the years 1939 and 2009 and reveals that the political and cultural roles translation was given differed historically in accordance with the changes in the Turkish state’s culture planning agenda.

and their works in English. who provides a fresh criticism of Frederic Jameson’s concept of national allegory on the grounds that it ignores translation. which revolves around whether Turkey belongs to the East or the West. The volume closes with the contribution by Arzu Eker Roditakis. the emergence of new interpreting areas and their professionalisation under the shaping force of diverse historical. target language usage and the political repercussions inherent in it. women’s sexuality was rendered visible in the public sphere where it had been hidden due to the desexualisation of women during the Turkish nation-building process. who surveys the status of the interpreting profession in imperial and national spatio-temporal contexts. she contends that the reason underlying Orhan Pamuk’s popularity/success is the reception of his works in connection with ‘a broader. reception and asymmetrical representation of two Turkish authors. the publisher of the Turkish translation of Pierre Louÿs’ Aphrodite: moeurs antiques was deemed not guilty on a charge of obscenity in the 1930s. through the transgressive practices of the pseudotranslators of the period. Consequent to the analysis. the publisher of the Turkish translation of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn was found guilty on the same charge in the 1980s. The author conducts a comparative analysis of the recontextualisation. In contrast. the use of translation for the adoption of western legal frameworks in the republican era is examined in the article by the late Elif Daldeniz Baysan. translation of western laws was a traditional translational practice that started in the second half of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire. strikingly and ironically. dominant discourse on Turkish cultural identity. The author’s detailed account demonstrates the intricate link between the multiethnic and multi-lingual structure of the Ottoman Empire. gender and nationalism and on the role of translation in the construction of gender roles and the history of sexuality is authored by Müge Işıklar Koçak. socio-political and even economic developments in the Turkish nationstate. The study surveys the history of patent translation in Turkey with a focus on the challenges and problems pertaining to the process of the transfer of the patent system into Turkey. Orhan Pamuk and Bilge Karasu. A very interesting study on the complicated relationships among translation. Interestingly. or to both’ (275) while. showing the strong critical potential of translation studies in terms of deconstructing the well-established notions and concepts used in other fields of social sciences. which reigned over three continents for more than 600 years. The author also explores the relationship of the translators to Turkish and Kurdish as two languages between which an asymmetrical power relation has historically existed and continues to exist. which defined them as ‘the mothers of the nation’ (214). Üstünsöz claims that thanks to the ‘transformative role attributed to translation in culture planning project of the late 1930s and 1940s’ (229) and hence to the high status attributed to translation as a tool of cultural progress. One of the historical surveys included in the volume is the essay by Ebru Diriker. whose contributions to translation studies in Turkey will always be remembered and treasured. Indeed. continued into the Turkish republican era and has been termed ‘lawmaking through translation’ in a recent study (Öner and Karadağ 2016). a time when emphasis ‘was placed on economic liberalism rather than cultural progress’ (229). The author examines how the practice of pseudotranslation was used to produce the then lacking sexual discourse within the Turkish cultural repertoire. who examines the translations from Kurdish literature into Turkish and traces the characteristics pertaining to the processes of text selection. Another survey is authored by Selim Temo Ergül.THE TRANSLATOR 385 literary translations. As an example from the field of law. the works of Bilge Karasu lack such popularity/success due to the ‘“universality” almost all reviewers see’ (282) in his works. and the high status of the interpreting profession. . She shows how.

and A.” PhD diss. Munich: Ludicium Verlag. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Banu Karadağ. This dearth is caused partly by a resistance to the use of theory within References Bengi Öner. Bauer. However.1080/0907676X. De Graat. that the paucity of translation research is most easily discernible.2016. Berman.1183181 Multiple translation communities in contemporary Japan.2015. D. Fokkema. I.” In Vol 5 of Proceedings of the XIIth Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association. the old and the new and the east and the west. 1988. The volume is also strong evidence that translation studies in Turkey is well integrated into international translation studies research as the scholars in the volume make a very sound use of the descriptive. Last but not least. Karadağ. 2015. In general terms. 1992. Routledge. NY: SUNY. 49) and other contemporary approaches to translation while integrating their critical/ innovative ideas into the main research methods and frameworks. B. 2006. Nana Sato-Rossberg. it is often contemporary contexts where the old. İstanbul senemoner@arel.1105829. ISBN 978-1-138-83170-44 One of the curiosities of translation studies most often observed by scholars focusing on Japanese contexts is just how great the current dearth of international scholarship on Japanese translation is. edited by Beverley Curran. 2016. Snell-Hornby. Öner. [Transformation of ‘Civilization’ in the Witness of Translation]. Hacettepe © 2016 Senem Öner http://dx. 224 pp.doi. and M.386 BOOK REVIEWS As an invaluable collection for researchers not only from translation studies but also from the fields of cultural studies. İstanbul: Diye. the secular and the religious. Bengi Öner. doi:10. sociology. and is observable across time periods and genres. exotic stereotypes are less applicable. “A Re-Evaluation of the Concept of Equivalence in the Literary Translations of Ahmed Midhat Efendi: A Linguistic Perspective. £95 (hardback).. Tradition. Tension and Translation in Turkey covers a vast array of translational phenomena dispersed over a time period of seven centuries and clearly shows that in the Ottoman/Turkish context. history. the volume reasserts the centrality of translation and the contributive potential of translation studies to humanities. functional and systemic method (Snell-Hornby 2006. Senem Öner İstanbul Arel University. translation has been a realm of ideological polarisation and a battlefield for the clash of the conservative and the progressive. “The Eloquent Mediator: Ahmed Midhat Efendi. and Kikuno Tanabe.. M.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 24: 319–338. I.. A. Aiming more for volume than scholarly . Çevirinin Tanıklığında ‘Medeniyet’in Dönüşümü. such a situation makes history of translation in Turkey a history of tension between tradition and change. 1990. New York/Abingdon. edited by R. The Turns of Translation Studies. The Experience of the Foreign: Culture and Translation in Romantic Germany. the essays collected in the volume shed light on the specificities of the translation cases under scrutiny and represent the Turkish translation tradition in all its richness. 2008. A. Capturing a great deal of these tensions as they are reflected in translation. literary studies. Translated by Stefan Heyvaert. New York. S. target-oriented. “Lawmaking through Translation: ‘Translating’ Crimes and Punishments.1080/13556509. law and 388–393.