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Globalizing Japanese Literature
Globalizing Japanese Literature

Translation and Literary Canon Formation in the West

Author(s): Agata Bice
Subject(s): Cultural history, Studies of Literature, Other Language Literature, Philology
Published by: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Keywords: Japanese literature; literary translation; literary canon; translation awards; literary awards; globalization; literature support program
Summary/Abstract: Appreciation for Japanese literature has been steadily growing in the West. Together with the Japanese traditional arts and pop-cultural products, literature has proven to play a vital role in communicating Japanese values to the global audience. However, a typical global reader can only access those works that have been translated into major European languages, mainly English, which currently holds the symbolic crown of the ruling language of literature in the world. This paper aims to show the current status of Japanese literature in the global literary space. For this purpose, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the available statistical information is carried out. In order to properly interpret the data, the history of translation and publishing of Japanese literature in English is briefly summarized, with special attention paid to the last few decades and the foundation of new publishing houses dedicated solely to translating fiction from Japan. It is highlighted that the titles promoted for translation have not only been deemed universal enough to resonate with the Western audiences but also display a certain level of uniqueness which would set them apart from other works available to the global reader. A particular focus is then given to private and public initiatives, such as support programs and translation awards that aim at promoting and popularizing fiction from Japan outside its borders. The paper attempts to show what impact those efforts have had on raising the status of Japanese literature in the global literary system.

  • Page Range: 85-106
  • Page Count: 22
  • Publication Year: 2023
  • Language: English