As we saw on the Home page, the Prismatic Jane Eyre project is grounded in a series of ideas:
A translation is a reading-and-imagining of the source text that is written down using different linguistic materials. It introduces change: nothing in a translation is ever exactly the same, nor means exactly the same, as in the source text. And yet a translation is close enough to the source to be taken by readers as though it were the same – to be treated as equivalent. This layering of difference with equivalence is why translation is so fascinating, and also why texts – especially literary texts like Jane Eyre – get translated again and again. Read more on our Translation page.
Translators are individuals with their own imaginations, opinions and writing styles. A translation is never simply done into ‘a language’, but into language as it is used by a translator. Yet translators never act alone: they work in contexts, in collaboration with other people such as editors and illustrators; they respond to other books, including other translations; they are aware of the market and of readers’ expectations. Many texts, and many people, can be involved in an act of translation. Read more on our Translators page.
In the Prismatic view of translation, a source text is itself multiple, able to be interpreted in different ways. Translations too are open to interpretation, and are re-translated in their turn in the mind of every reader. The language difference negotiated by translation is not only that between standardised national languages (such as standard French or standard English), but also between dialects, idioms, styles and scripts (such as the Arabic and Chinese writing systems). Pages developing these ideas will be published in Phase 2 of the Prismatic Jane Eyre Project.
Finally: Why Jane Eyre?
Text by Matthew Reynolds