Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Literary Translations at War: Mapping World War 2 in Europe (1939-45)

Project description

Deciphering literary translations during WWII

There is an increased interest in translation history. Literary translation and European translators in war time are of particular interest. However, this is a topic that has not been fully studied or explored. The ERC-funded TranslAtWar project will investigate how literary translation during the Second World War has contributed to our understanding of history in the making. It will also explore how history contributed to literary translation. Overall, the project will investigate the circulation of ideas and culture through translation and the role of translators. TranslAtWar will also review the impact of translation practices in European literature and on the intellectual and cultural development of several countries.


While the history of translation is a field in Humanities that has known a significant increase recently worldwide, a European history of literary translation during the war has yet to be written. Due to the importance of power relations, ideology, censorship and propaganda, the practice of literary translation and European translators in wartime is a particularly interesting configuration, but it remained relatively unexplored so far on a truly European level: few comprehensive researches have been carried out on literary translation in Europe during this constrained historical context, unlike on translation practices during peacetime.
What was translated (how and by whom) whilst wars were destroying bonds between people and States? What meaning does one then invest translation with? Focussing on World War 2, a very significant period of 20th century European history, the TranslAtWar (Literary Translations at War) research project aims at investigating how literary translation then contributed to the understanding of History in the making, and, reciprocally, how History contributed to the analysis of multiple forms of literary translation. It is about questioning the circulation of ideas and culture through translation, and equally taking a close interest in the role of the agents of these circulations, both male and female translators, during wartime. We will also question the impact that the practice of translation in such exceptional historical circumstances had on the intellectual and cultural development of several countries, and what it is likely to have contributed given their position (central or peripheral) in the world of European literature.
Under my supervision and taking advantage of long-standing international partnerships and expertise, this innovative project aims at writing a new page of European history and, eventually, promoting the emergence of a new disciplinary field at the crossroads of translation studies and war studies.


Net EU contribution
€ 2 128 708,00
1 quai de tourville
44000 Nantes

See on map

Pays de la Loire Pays de la Loire Loire-Atlantique
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00