(Trans)forming national images in translation

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The article explores the relations between translation, cultural identity and national self-image, focusing on a case study from early 20th century Estonia. The analysis of different aspects of the “Young Estonia” cultural movement’s project of literary and linguistic renewal reveals that the translational attitude adopted by the movement – well expressed in their slogan “Let us be Estonians, but let us become Europeans too” – does not describe a linear trajectory of “self-­colonisation”, as some scholars have recently claimed. It points rather to the “processual inseparability” of translation, cultural renewal and national self-­imagining that is studied in the article through an analysis of Young Estonian poet Vilem Ridala’s experiments with emotion vocabulary as a privileged place of cultural difference in his controversial 1913 translation of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s L’innocente.


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