Francisco Ayala and his Professional Approach to Translation Theory and Practice – Elisa Alonso-Jiménez, Universidad Pablo de Olavide; G. I. HUM 384, Universidad de Sevilla
Francisco Ayala y su aproximación profesional a la teoría y la práctica de la traducción Francisco Ayala (Granada, 1906-Madrid, 2009), miembro de la Real Academia Española, sociólogo, hispanista y renombrado escritor, fue también traductor durante años, especialmente cuando se vio forzado a exiliarse a Buenos Aires al final de la Guerra Civil española, en 1939. Hasta donde sabemos, se ha prestado escasa atención desde los Estudios de Traducción a esta faceta suya de traductor y teórico. Como se verá en las líneas que siguen, Francisco Ayala se ganó la vida como traductor durante años y reflejó su experiencia en Breve teoría de la traducción (1946). Entre otros autores, tradujo a Thomas Mann y a Rainer Maria Rilke del alemán, a Almeida del portugués y a Léon Bloy del francés. En este artículo solo será posible esbozar una parte de los méritos de Ayala, dado que su vasta producción como escritor, traductor y teórico constituye, a nuestro juicio, un magnífico campo de investigación para nuestra disciplina.
Francisco Ayala (Granada, 1906-Madrid, 2009), member of the Royal Academy of Spanish Language, sociologist, hispanist and renowned writer, was also a translator for many years, especially, at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, when he was forced into exile in Buenos Aires. As far as we know, little attention has been devoted from Translation Studies to his facet as a translator and theorist. As we will try to narrate in the following lines, Francisco Ayala earned a living from translation for many years and reflected about this activity in his Breve teoría de la traducción (1946; Brief Theory of Translation). Among other authors, he translated Thomas Mann and Rainer Maria Rilke from German, Almeida from Portuguese and Léon Bloy from French. In this paper, we will only be able to outline a part of Ayala’s merits, since, in our opinion, his vast production, as a writer, translator and theorist constitutes a fabulous playground for researchers in our discipline.
As we have tried to outline above, Francisco Ayala deserves an outstanding position within Translation Studies. We have noted that the sociology of translation provides a solid framework that encompasses constructs such as the habitus and the Actor-Network Theory, as well as methodologies such as the ethnography or narratology, which can be used to approach Ayala as a translator and theorist. Francisco Ayala was able to incorporate his sociological background into his translation theory. Moreover, he shares with us a first-hand description of his habitus as a translator: literary translation is described as a sedentary laborious work conducted in the family home, with his typewriter. Ayala refers to this activity as a precarious job that he has to combine with other intellectual tasks (teaching, writing, etc.); these facts seem to support the current argument of the fragmentation of the profession (Katan, 2009). In spite of the low remuneration that Ayala receives for his translations, we can find features of professionalism in his modus operandi: perfectionist, resorting to translation of the text in other languages, revising galley proofs, etc. As stressed above, he provides many details about the editorial industry in the forties, where we can already find traces of an incipient globalisation. Ayala does not hide pragmatic aspects of the profession of translator such as, for example, translation rates, negotiations with the agency, interferences by the editorial staff in the job of translators, self-exploitation of freelancers, professional encroachment, etc. Any of these topics could constitute by itself a source of further reflection. His ‘post-modern’ approach to translation theory, extracted from his extensive experience as a translator, and emanated from his intellectual dimension, adds an extra value to his theoretical contribution that can be considered in many aspects as ‘professionally oriented’. Finally, as expressed before, we consider our work can only be seen as an introduction to Francisco Ayala in the field of Translation Studies, and that a number of approaches — such as retranslation and many others — could contribute with powerful methodologies. In this sense, we would be very pleased to arouse the interest of many other researchers.