Translating and Rewriting in the Middle Ages: A Philological Approach

In: Philology Matters!
Massimiliano Bampi
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The investigation of translation activities is a major concern of medieval studies around the world, as evidenced by the increasing book-body of scholarship produced in a variety of languages. Over the last twenty years, the range of works within the field of translation studies has been progressively enriched by the discussion aroused by the introduction of a new perspective on translation, exemplified in the Descriptive Translation Studies approach. In earlier work, the act of translation was indeed assessed mostly in terms of the faithfulness of the target text to the source text, with the consequence that attention was hardly ever paid to the context into which the translated text was imported. In the Descriptive Translation Studies perspective, the translated text comes to be understood mainly as a part of the receiving culture. The aim of this chapter is to show that a descriptive approach to medieval translation is successful only when coupled with a philological perspective that foregrounds the peculiarities of medieval textual production and addresses the interpretive issues that modern scholars face when confronted with a manuscript culture. To this end, the chapter discusses examples from medieval Scandinavia from the point of view of the interplay between theoretical attentiveness and philological preoccupation.

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