The Linguist

The Linguist 54,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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12 The Linguist Vol/54 No/6 2015 FEATURES How the Communist Party of Greece sought to gain control of Marxist discourse through the translation of important texts. By Christina Delistathi F ew philosophies have affected intellectual production and political events and movements as much as Marxism. Yet, despite its significance, very little is known about the role of translation in the development of local Marxist discourses. Still less is known about how translations of theoretical texts were carried out. this is why I decided to research the history of such translations, with a focus on The Selected Works of Marx and Engels and its translation into Greek. In 1951, the communist Party of Greece (Κομμουνιστικό Κόμμα Ελλάδας; kke) published a Greek translation of The Selected Works of Marx and Engels in Bucharest, romania. this important publication contained the most comprehensive collection of works by Marx and engels, translated at a time of severe repression of communists and communist literature by the Greek state. Given this political environment, why was this edition published and how was it translated? By 1951, the kke had fought and lost the civil War in Greece (1946-1949). the party had been declared illegal and its leadership had escaped to romania, where the party apparatus was based. Members who fled were dispersed in various eastern european countries as political refugees. In Greece, anyone suspected of being a communist was persecuted, and faced a prison sentence and possible execution. the kke operated abroad mainly in refugee settlements in eastern europe. In December 1949, its central committee decided to translate the Selected Works. this was aimed not at activists in Greece, but at the party cadre and the Greek Left diaspora interested in the systematic study of Marxism. the Selected Works, in two-volumes, is an important publication for Greek Marxist discourse. It includes texts of published books and excerpts from books written by the authors, but also a selection of their personal correspondence with other revolutionaries, which illuminates theoretical aspects of Marxist theory. Some texts had been translated into Greek previously (e.g. The Communist Manifesto), while others, such as the correspondence, were made available to readers of Greek for the first time. As noted in the preface, borrowed from the russian edition, the publication contained what the party considered to be the most valuable texts by the authors. this classification was decisive in the codification of Marxism and the availability of translations of Marxist texts. the translations would be the most authoritative renderings, superseding earlier ones, and they would become the bases for other translations of Marxist texts. Anyone wishing to study Marxism systematically would have to consult the Selected Works, so the translations assisted the creation of knowledge and the development of Marxist discourse. A Stalinist agenda A commemorative edition to mark Stalin's 70th birthday, the publication had immense symbolic significance. By directly associating Stalin with the founders of Marxism, the edition indicated an unequivocal acceptance of the Stalinist reading of the theory as a legitimate and integral part of Marxist thought. establishing such continuity was particularly important. In the 1920s and 1930s, the communist International, of which the kke had been a member, had made concerted efforts to codify Marxism in response to challenges and opposition to Stalinism, Marxism rewritten © ShutterStock

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