Authors-Translators and European Literary Culture: Comparative approaches to canon, practices and interference


The study of every national literary system cannot be separated from a comparative approach and a survey on the function of translations. The aim of this research project is to study some works translated by the major writers of European literary culture (necessarily restricting the investigation to literature in Italian, French, English and Spanish in the period between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), analyzing the role of these translations in the formation of a common European literary canon.

Over the two centuries on which the Research Project will focus, some of Europe's leading writers have, in fact, translated foreign works using translation as a fundamental practice for personal enrichment, with creative and stylistic purposes.
Although widespread, this practice has been underestimated and, despite the importance recognized by several scholars to this phenomenon, there are so far only a few isolated studies in this regard.

An interdisciplinary and integrated investigation will therefore be carried out which, while often desired in the past, has never really been initiated.

The research will make clear the existence of a European community of writers who, through the use of translation, have led to shared tones, structures, symbols and images.
It will investigate the echo that the practice of translation has had on these writers and start a definition of the network of interferences that have influenced their work and their national literary tradition.

In this sense, author translations have also proved to be a useful way of enriching the target literary language, often representing the answer to a need for renewal.
This peculiar way of meeting with the foreigner has represented a phenomenon of fundamental importance that has involved the interaction between different literary traditions in the perspective of a common European canon.

This research will analyze the practice of translation as an essential moment in the creative activity of some of the major European writers, to highlight how the encounter with otherness has led to the genesis of this European canon.
One of the main characteristics of this research is the interdisciplinarity and originality of the organically organized approach with reference to the field of investigation.

All the participants in the research group are scholars of specific disciplines (from different scientific-disciplinary fields, including L-LIN/03, L-LIN/04, L-LIN/05, L-LIN/07, L-LIN/10, L-FIL-LET/11, L-FIL-LET/14) with a common interest in research related to the practice of translation.
Through their heterogeneity, the members of the research group will come to conclusions that will be the result of a survey conducted from several perspectives and in close synergy. The
research will be developed according to the different survey perspectives indicated below (which can potentially be integrated with others in the course of the research).

An articulated interpretation is expected, characterized by a depth of field on the work of European writers-translators and on the essential influence that the practice of translation has had on their work and on the national literary canons.
Research participants will share the survey on some of the following areas (which, representing an indication of principle, remain open to additions and will not necessarily have to be investigated in their entirety):

  1. Auteur poetic translation;
  2. The author's translation and the avant-garde;
  3. Writers-translators and minority languages;
  4. Translation and writing of migration;
  5. Self-translation;
  6. Author's translation and images;
  7. Novels translated by novelists;
  8. Theoretical reflections of writers-translators;
  9. Author translations and literary languages.

The methodological approaches of the research will reflect the heterogeneity of the participants, and the disciplinary differentiation of the scientific fields concerned wants to represent a guarantee and an added value for the achievement of the proposed objectives.


The project has a potentially extendable annual duration.