7. Translation and the rediscovery of the multinational Central European

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Since the fall of communism the study of the cultures of Central Europe has been strongly marked by the national paradigm. Cultural artifacts such as works of literature, visual arts and music, as well as forms of dance, have been considered for their role in the construction and perpetuation of distinctive national identities, in part as a means of exploding the myth of a monolithic Eastern Bloc. Relevant as this approach may be to the study of Central Europe, it overlooks ways in which works of art from the region are frequently resistant to the national paradigm. Works of literature, in particular, often incorporate palpable influences from several national traditions, alluding to and participating in a cultural heritage that transcends the borders of language. Translation constitutes one of the primary instruments of this process of influence. The traditional understanding of translation as a bridge between cultures, however, is inadequate in this context, as it reinforces the notion of distinctive national cultures. In the multilingual culture of Central Europe translation figures not simply as a conduit but rather as a form of expression through which a shared multinational culture is sustained.


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