The Politics of Relay Translation and Language Hierarchies: The Case of Stanisław Lem’s Solaris

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Translation and the Intersection of Texts, Contexts and Politics


This chapter proposes that the presence of doubly translated literary texts in English points to a political dimension of literary trends. Relay translations are commissioned and published because minority and less translated languages are not accorded importance or prestige. The chapter’s central argument is twofold. First, it argues that doubly mediated English translations indicate the position of source languages and literatures within the global hierarchies of cultural prestige. Second, by using as a case study the 1970 relay translation (via French) of Stanisław Lem’s critically acclaimed novel, Solaris, the chapter demonstrates that by introducing a third linguistic layer, cultural context, and translator, relay translation increases the likelihood of inaccuracies and errors, making it a method particularly unsuited to literary translation.


DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-53748-1_8

Publication Date