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Postcolonial Awareness in Translation: A Case Study of the Six

Polish Translations of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness


The issue of racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a subject of an
ongoing heated debate among literary critics. To say the least, there are
passages in the novella that constitute potentially racist pitfalls in
translation. There are few Polish studies of the translations of the novella
and they either examine only a selected fragment of the translated texts,
or are not concerned with the aspect of racism of Heart of Darkness in
translation. This paper covers all six translations of Heart of
Darkness into Polish and is focused solely on the potentially racially
biased instances in the translated texts. It features both an analysis of
the distribution of racedenoting phrases across the subsequent
retranslations, as well as a close reading analysis of selected fragments,
with a scrutiny of the translation choices in context. Comparing
subsequent translation strategies, I argue that the degree of the post
colonial consciousness of a given translator actively influences the
quality of the translation. In conclusion, this paper by means of a race
focused analysis of all Polish translations of Heart of Darkness examines
the relation between the development of the postcolonial criticism of
the novella and the translators' postcolonial awareness.
Joanna Reiche, 2013