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Translation and Comparison II

A Methodological Inquiry into Reception in the History of Ideas

László Kontler

This article addresses the methodological issues involved in the study of interlingual translation as an avenue of reception in the history of ideas. In particular, it assesses the possible uses of linguistic contextualism and conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte) in this endeavour. It argues that both of these approaches have been, or are capable of being, far more sensitive towards the phenomenon of reception and, indeed, this is an area where cross-fertilization between them (often commended in general but rarely if ever in specific terms) is a practical possibility. Perspectives from Rezeptionsgeschichte may provide useful tools for building bridges between them. A few case studies in translation history are then critically examined, and on the basis of the foregoing methodological reflections propositions are made for further refining the approach taken in those case studies.

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Translation and Comparison

Early-Modern and Current Perspectives

László Kontler

This article attempts to refine the understanding of translation, thus contributing to evaluate its role in reception theory and in the history of ideas. A discussion of on the character, theories, and practices of translation in early-modern times is its entry point of analysis. During this period, what mattered in the first place was not the extent to which the translated text succeeded or failed in making the source text and its "original" ideas accessible in the target language, but rather the extent and the way in which the source text was instrumental in pursuing the agenda set by the translator or others in compliance with specific contexts. Such a perspective on translation seems also appropriate to current modes of inquiry for which translation is not an instance of inter-cultural communication, aiming to penetrate the Other in its fullness and make it intelligible in its otherness, but a communicative act whose purposes are predominantly intra-cultural and consist in supporting domestic agendas to which the translated text looks instrumental.

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Silke Schwandt, László Kontler, Anu Korhonen, Marie-Christine Boilard and Johan Strang

Burkhard Hasebrink, Susanne Bernhardt, and Imke Früh, eds., Semantik der Gelassenheit: Generierung, Etablierung, Transformation [Semantics of detachment: Formation, establishment, transformation] (Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 2012), 319 pp.

Martin J. Burke and Melvin Richter, eds., Why Concepts Matter: Translating Social and Political Thought (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012), 240 pp.

Ute Frevert, Monique Scheer, Anne Schmidt, Pascal Eitler, Bettina Hitzer, Nina Verheyen, Benno Gammerl, Christian Bailey, and Margrit Pernau, Gefühlswissen: Eine lexikalische Spurensuche in der Moderne [Emotional knowledge: In search of lexical clues in modernity] (Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag, 2011), 364 pp.

Julia Harfensteller, The United Nations and Peace: The Evolution of an Organizational Concept (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2011), 355 pp.

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, ed., Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 351 pp.