Scholars who have worked on the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci over the past decade now concur that the concept he develops of the translatability of paradigmatic discourses goes to the heart of his work. It is by reinterpreting from within his own philosophy of praxis ideas whose source is external to that philosophy, and purging them of elements foreign to the philosophy of praxis, that he renders them suitable for incorporation into his own specific discourse. Without this operation of reinterpretation and subsequent translation of concepts across different discourses, theoretical consistency would risk be a mirage and an amalgam of at times contradictory and even inchoate elements. The chapter compares first drafts of Gramsci’s notes on translatability with the final ones in the eleventh notebook in order better to understand the nature of the conclusions reached, the doubts and the caution necessary in this operation of translation. Between first and final drafts, a number of other interesting comments on translatability are singled out, not only as providing stepping stones to the results arrived at but also to point the way towards and even consolidate other ideas about the translatability of different discourses. A fundamental concept that emerges is that consistency can be brought to apparently different discourses by relating back to the social bases that underlie them. In this way he attempts to explain the near-simultaneous appearance of classical German philosophy, English (and Scottish) classical political economy and French political practice and literature. The “philosophy of praxis has synthesized in these three movements, that is, the entire culture of the age and […] in this synthesis […] one will find each of these three movements present as a preparatory ‘moment’” (Notebook 10, §9). (Other examples spring to mind of the different and again more or less simultaneous manifestations of, for example, the different cultural forms assumed by the baroque, Romanticism, modernism, and, latterly, post-modernism.) Attention is drawn to similar ideas regarding translatability that emerged much later in the work of Thomas Kuhn, especially in the essays, appearing in the years subsequent to the publication of his Structures of Scientific Revolutions, that partially rectify his earlier positions. As concrete practice Gramsci explicitly links his theses on translatability to his work on Croce in particular but they have wider relevance to the positions and of other figures whose discourses are discussed in the Notebooks. Conclusions in Gramsci are often hedged around with provisos and always have a rather tentative nature, and there is no reason why translatability should be an exception. However the statement he makes in the last paragraph on translatability (Notebook 11, §49) in his rewritten drafts on the subject in the eleventh notebook has a note of finality to it: “Two fundamentally similar structures have ‘equivalent’ superstructures and are mutually translatable whatever the particular national language”.

Translation and Translatability: Renewal of the Marxist Paradigm

BOOTHMAN, DEREK
2010

Abstract

Scholars who have worked on the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci over the past decade now concur that the concept he develops of the translatability of paradigmatic discourses goes to the heart of his work. It is by reinterpreting from within his own philosophy of praxis ideas whose source is external to that philosophy, and purging them of elements foreign to the philosophy of praxis, that he renders them suitable for incorporation into his own specific discourse. Without this operation of reinterpretation and subsequent translation of concepts across different discourses, theoretical consistency would risk be a mirage and an amalgam of at times contradictory and even inchoate elements. The chapter compares first drafts of Gramsci’s notes on translatability with the final ones in the eleventh notebook in order better to understand the nature of the conclusions reached, the doubts and the caution necessary in this operation of translation. Between first and final drafts, a number of other interesting comments on translatability are singled out, not only as providing stepping stones to the results arrived at but also to point the way towards and even consolidate other ideas about the translatability of different discourses. A fundamental concept that emerges is that consistency can be brought to apparently different discourses by relating back to the social bases that underlie them. In this way he attempts to explain the near-simultaneous appearance of classical German philosophy, English (and Scottish) classical political economy and French political practice and literature. The “philosophy of praxis has synthesized in these three movements, that is, the entire culture of the age and […] in this synthesis […] one will find each of these three movements present as a preparatory ‘moment’” (Notebook 10, §9). (Other examples spring to mind of the different and again more or less simultaneous manifestations of, for example, the different cultural forms assumed by the baroque, Romanticism, modernism, and, latterly, post-modernism.) Attention is drawn to similar ideas regarding translatability that emerged much later in the work of Thomas Kuhn, especially in the essays, appearing in the years subsequent to the publication of his Structures of Scientific Revolutions, that partially rectify his earlier positions. As concrete practice Gramsci explicitly links his theses on translatability to his work on Croce in particular but they have wider relevance to the positions and of other figures whose discourses are discussed in the Notebooks. Conclusions in Gramsci are often hedged around with provisos and always have a rather tentative nature, and there is no reason why translatability should be an exception. However the statement he makes in the last paragraph on translatability (Notebook 11, §49) in his rewritten drafts on the subject in the eleventh notebook has a note of finality to it: “Two fundamentally similar structures have ‘equivalent’ superstructures and are mutually translatable whatever the particular national language”.
Gramsci, language and translation
107
133
Boothman D.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/93175
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