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NATASCIA BARRALE

Foreign literature as poison: (self-)censorship in the translation of German popular fiction in Italy during the 1930s

  • Autori: Barrale, N.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2018
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)

Abstract

Between the 1920s and 1930s, the translation of foreign contemporary novels into Italian was encouraged by publishers, meeting the needs of a new readership, which was larger and more heterogeneous than before the war. However, the sharp rise in the number of imported novels provoked strong disapproval. In a context of heightened nationalism and cultural autocracy, translation was considered a polluting, anti-patriotic and servile practice. The censorship that took place, however, was mostly implemented via a tacit compromise between the publishers and the regime, rather than by repressive institutional actions. In order to protect themselves from sanctions and requisitions, publishers and translators often deleted potentially unpleasant elements from the texts, including topics such as abortion, suicide, pacifism, sexuality, women’s emancipation or episodes belittling Italy. The analysis of German popular fiction translated into Italian in this period suggests that popular literature was translated with a high degree of manipulation. This may be ascribed to the low cultural status accorded to this type of literature and the modernity of the themes it contained. Furthermore, while ‘high literature’ catered to a niche readership, the widespread circulation of popular literature made it seem more dangerous and thus more subject to censorship.

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