Representing Africa through translation: Ferdinand Oyono's une vie de boy and le vieux négret et la médaille in English
Awung, Felix Nkwatta
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The aim of this study is to use Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological approach in investigating the social factors that influenced the translation of Ferdinand Oyono’s Une Vie de Boy (1956) and Le Vieux Nègre et la Médaille (1956). It is argued in the study that the decisions made in the process of translating Une Vie de Boy and Le Vieux Nègre et la Médaille were influenced by the social forces prevalent in the literary field at the time the translations were produced. This is why Bourdieu’s model has been adopted; it offers us the tools with which to understand the dialectic relationship between social agents and the fields in which they operate. It has thus been used in the study to demonstrate that there was a mutually influential relationship between the actions of the agents involved in the translations of Une Vie de Boy and Le Vieux Nègre et la Médaille and the field in which the works were translated. In this regard, the study has done a macro-level and a textual level investigation of the actions of the agents involved in the translations of Une Vie de Boy and Le Vieux Nègre et la Médaille. At the macro-level, the study has mapped out the positions that made up the structure of the African literary field in which the translations were produced, the agents who occupied the said positions, and how this was influential to translation action at both the macro-level and the textual level. The findings reveal that John Reed’s role in The African Writers Series as a critic, an advisor and a translator contributed in constructing the field of African literature in which Oyono’s novels were translated, which in turn constrained his actions during the translation of the two novels. This study also argues that translation action at the textual level is constrained by the norms of the target literary field, as well as the translator’s individual habitus. In this regard, an examination has been done on John Reed’s strategies in the translation of culture-bound terms in Une Vie de Boy (1956) and Le Vieux Nègre et la Médaille (1956). The data reveals that the translator’s actions were influenced by a complex combination of the norms of the field, his individual habitus, as well as other constraining factors.