• Transnational Translation: Foreign Language in the Travel Writing of Cooper, Melville, and Twain

      Orvell, Miles; Salazar, James B.; Kaufmann, Michael W., 1964-; Waldstreicher, David (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      This dissertation examines the representation of foreign language in nineteenth-century American travel writing, analyzing how authors conceptualize the act of translation as they address the multilingualism encountered abroad. The three major figures in this study--James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain--all use moments of cross-cultural contact and transference to theorize the permeability of the language barrier, seeking a mean between the oversimplification of the translator's task and a capitulation to the utter incomprehensibility of the Other. These moments of translation contribute to a complex interplay of not only linguistic but also cultural and economic exchange. Charting the changes in American travel to both the "civilized" world of Europe and the "savage" lands of the Southern and Eastern hemispheres, this project will examine the attitudes of cosmopolitanism and colonialism that distinguished Western from non-Western travel at the beginning of the century and then demonstrate how the once distinct representations of European and non-European languages converge by the century's end, with the result that all kinds of linguistic difference are viewed as either too easily translatable or utterly incomprehensible. Integrating the histories of cosmopolitanism and imperialism, my study of the representation of foreign language in travel writing demonstrates that both the compulsion to translate and a capitulation to incomprehensibility prove equally antagonistic to cultural difference. By mapping the changing conventions of translation through the representative narratives of three canonical figures, "Transnational Translation" traces a shift in American attitudes toward the foreign as the cosmopolitanism of Cooper and Melville transforms into Twain's attitude of both cultural and linguistic nationalism.