Sunjata in English
paratexts, authorship, and the postcolonial exotic
The West African Mande oral epic, Sunjata, has been translated into scores of languages, often multiple times. English translations of the epic target a range of types of audience, including young children, school children, a popular general adult readership, and academic specialists. In this case study, Batchelor compares the three English Sunjata translations which target an academic audience, contrasting the levels of prominence given to the Malian djeli (oral historian, or story-teller) with that given to the translator or book-producer of the English version, and exploring questions around authorship and ownership of ethnographic literary texts. Drawing together Graham Huggan's notion of the "postcolonial exotic" with Lawrence Venuti's emphasis on translator visibility, the chapter interrogates the political and ethical implications of the case study findings.
Batchelor, K. (2018)., Sunjata in English: paratexts, authorship, and the postcolonial exotic, in J. Boase-Beier, L. Fisher & H. Furukawa (eds.), The Palgrave handbook of literary translation, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 409-426.
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