35(2) - 2023

Comment rompre le cercle vicieux : reconnaissance symbolique et économique dans les revendications des traducteurs français et allemands

Solange Arber & Victor Collard

How to break the vicious circle: Symbolic and economic recognition in the claims of French and German translators

The socio-economic conditions of literary translation are often described in terms of a vicious circle that links poor pay with a lack of recognition in society. Since the 1950s, translators have sought more symbolic power in order to achieve better financial stability. This paper examines the implementation of this strategy and its results. It expands on the example of German translator Elmar Tophoven (1923-1989), who was one of the first to talk about this vicious circle, with an overview of the evolution of the profession in France and Germany since the end of the 20th century. The action of associations, unions and international networks proves to be of great importance for the representation and professionalization of literary translation, though it has its limits. While the authorship of translators has become more widely accepted, their remuneration stagnates. Drawing on the sociology of artistic professions, it appears that literary translators find themselves in a very similar situation to many other creators, in that their symbolic status as producers of cultural goods does not translate into financial stability.

literary translators, profession, sociology, remuneration, France, Germany

DOI 10.17462/para.2023.02.08

25 octobre 2023
  35(2) - 2023