After centuries of neglect, the translator is now recognised as a crucial negotiator in the international exchange of ideas. Accessing reliable versions of foreign texts is absolutely vital for international dialogue and establishing common grounds for the exchange of culture. Within this process, translators are regularly held accountable for their perceived fidelity to the translated text and for the success of its adaptation to the target culture. Yet we know very little about how, during the writing or genesis of the text, translators negotiate their personal ethics and creativity within the constraints of the publishing industry and the culture of reception. Translation Studies could more accurately describe translation processes and better train future translators if researchers knew how expert literary translators decide which strategies to pursue, when they exercise or restrain their creativity, and when it is circumscribed by others. The possibility to acquire such knowledge is emerging through the recent development of translators’ archives in Europe and North America, in particular. Scholars have begun to retrace the genesis of certain texts by studying translation manuscripts and material evidence of the creative process. However, this new field of research lacks a coherent methodology that allows it to build a systematic appreciation of translator decision making and understand how individuals negotiate external pressures and influences. The Genetic Translation Studies project addresses exactly this problem. Furthermore, it analyses the cultural politics that determine if, which, and whose translation materials are collected, where, how, and above all, why. It uses this understanding to formulate and promote policy solutions to increase the quantity and diversity of translator archives. This will therefore allow future researchers to understand the processes that shape a much wider range of translations valued by the public.
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