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Study on impact of Francoist censorship in translations of “Western” novels and movies

The PhD by María del Carmen Camus Camus studied on the impact of Francoist censorship on translations of “western” novels and movies under Franco’s Spain. The time frame which was the subject of study was the period from the end of the Civil War in 1939, until 1975, the year of Franco’s death.

The work is entitled, Censored translations of novels and films of the Western genre during Franco’s Spain. The time period chosen, besides falling within the Francoist period, is highly representative of the genre; 1939 was the year that John Ford’s – a milestone in westerns - made its debut, given that it is considered to be the starting point of the Western movie. The novelty of the research lies in the undertaking of an analysis of translations of the discourse of a concrete genre – that of the “Wild West”, one of the most read and viewed in Western countries in the XX century. The time period of the Franco dictatorship, with its ideological, political and cultural restrictions, has provided Ms Camus with fertile ground for the study of translation as a product that enables us to reveal the impact that the Western genre discourse had on the culture of Franco’s Spain. Ms Camus highlights the evolution of the genre during the time period under study, from quite insignificant figures at its beginning until the start of its veritable takeoff from 1949 on, with an exponential growth between 1953 and 1959. The genre enjoyed a period of splendour until 1966, when a decline began which continued until the end of the period under study. According to the author, this growth coincided with the political, religious and cultural milestones of the dictatorship. Ms Camus has drawn up two catalogues of censorship records, one for narrative fiction and the other for the cinema. As regards the origin of the catalogue works, it has been shown that there is a clear predominance of native works compared to translated ones. Censorship in relation to the origin of the work has shown that it was applied in a similar form both in translated and autochthonous narrative. As regards censorship criteria applied to the genre, it was found that those involving morality were the ones that most frequently (70%) gave rise to deletions or modifications. In comparing the impact of censorship overall on the Western genre in the narrative and cinematographic media, it was found that, in all cases, it was more acute in the cinematographic genre. Ms Camus concluded that, in the production of novels about the Wild West, publishers directed the creativity of their authors, handing them down a series of directions about what they could and could not include in their scripts on political, religious and morality issues and, in this way, this literary activity became a conveyor belt system of production. Given the great capacity for social penetration that this genre of literature had - easy to read and low cost – made a deep and lasting stamp on Spanish culture. According to Ms Camus, the genre of the West, peppered with myths and legends that moved in that vast scene that was the Far West and where the events narrated were distant in time and space from the ideological, political and cultural reality that was the Spain of Francoism, did not pose any threat or danger to the foundations of the dictatorship, thus facilitating its introduction to the Spanish public and, in fact, managed to occupy a central position within the system. María del Carmen Camus Camus (Santander, 1957) is a graduate in English Philology. The directors of the PhD were Ms Raquel Merino Álvarez and Mr José Miguel Santamaría López, from the Department of English and German Philology and Translation and Interpretation at the Arts Faculty of the University of the Basque Country. She is currently working at the Philology Department at the University of Cantabria.


Politics, History