Translation as condition and theme in Milan Kundera’s novels

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In this chapter the author explores the problematic relationship of the Czech novelist Milan Kundera to the translation of his work. On the one hand, translation offers authors who write in languages of limited diffusion entrée onto the world stage. On the other hand, translation entails the author’s loss of control over his work. The author traces the emergence of what may be a fictitious translator, conjecturing that this translator was in fact Kundera himself. The chapter raises important questions about the translator’s agency, the nature of literature in translation, and the very idea of a national literature.


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