Ghosts and doubles: Pamuk's editors and translators

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Taking Orhan Pamuk’s trajectory from an underground Turkish writer to a Nobel laureate as a case study, this article questions current narratives of the production of world literature that attribute agency to just a few central players in Paris and New York. It uncovers the role of a wide range of actors (including editors, publishers and translators) in establishing the distinctive “translatability” and “worldliness” of Pamuk’s writing. Contending that the 1990 publication of The White Castle represents Pamuk’s first breakthrough into global literary markets, the article demonstrates that Victoria Holbrook’s award-winning translation was in fact substantially rewritten, without reference to the original Turkish, by a junior editor at a small UK publishing house. English versions of Pamuk’s work in this early period typically enhance the worldly qualities of his prose by emphasizing parallels with, for example, the novels of Umberto Eco and Garcia-Marquez. The more unfamiliar a language is to publishing houses within global literary markets, this article argues, the more likely that editors and translators will shape the text’s entry into world literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-124
Number of pages20
JournalMiddle Eastern Literatures
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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