Sexuality in Retranslation: A Comparative Analysis on the Turkish Translations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Alan C.

Theories and Realities in Translation & Writing, İstanbul, Turkey, 15 May 2021, pp.1-2

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-2


Translation of taboo language has always been a thorny issue within the context of Turkish retranslations in the Republican Era. Scholarship on retranslation, today, is more based on describing the socio-cultural norms governing the process of retranslation, rather than handling the existing translations on the basis of the worn-out ‘retranslation hypothesis’. It goes without saying that in the case of censorship, retranslations may not necessarily serve as products that subvert the taboos in former translations. With this in mind, each retranslation can be seen as a piece of mosaic that helps one to discern the total portrayal and understanding of the original work in the target culture. Based upon this analogical perspective, this paper is an attempt to describe and compare Turkish (re)translations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in terms of taboo concepts. To this end, (re)translations by Avni İnsel (1945 and 1960), Akşit Göktürk (1968 and 1982), Meram Arvas (2012), Mehtap Gün Ayral (2012) and Meriç Selvi (2013) are to be delineated through a comparative Critical Discourse Analysis with respect to taboo elements. In line with this purpose, following research questions will be the focus of analysis: (i) Do more recent retranslations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover tend to be closer to the source text? (ii) What are the ways the so-called taboo concepts in the novel, e.g. obscenity, as a stylistic and discourse marker, shape each (re)translation? (iii) What are the motivations and socio-political conditions that (re)shaped each translation? And (iv) to what extent an integrative and holistic look into the mosaic of retranslations leads one to the source meaning?  It can be noted that all Turkish retranslations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover comprise a mosaic, if not a complete one. In this sense, each retranslation, along with the socio-cultural conditions shaping it, is part of this mosaic. In fact, retranslations in different years by the same translators (namely Avni İnsel and Akşit Göktürk) differ considerably in the way the subversive elements of the original work are rendered, which is an indication of a deviation from Berman’s retranslation hypothesis. It is thought that the mosaic analogy, in the interface of retranslation and taboo concepts, can run and direct one closer to the discourse and style of the source only if all retranslations are taken into consideration. In this respect, the present study is expected to provide a new perspective on retranslation, integrating the idea of ‘retranslations as a mosaic’ and obscenity as a discourse marker. It will also be the first case which handles Turkish translations of D.H. Lawrence’s masterpiece with reference to the concept of retranslation.

Key words: Censorship, literary translation, retranslation, taboo, critical discourse analysis