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Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations$
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Rajendra Chitnis, Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Rhian Atkin, and Zoran Milutinovic

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620528

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620528.001.0001

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Literature as Cultural Diplomacy: Czech Literature in Great Britain, 1918–38

Literature as Cultural Diplomacy: Czech Literature in Great Britain, 1918–38

(p.69) Chapter Four Literature as Cultural Diplomacy: Czech Literature in Great Britain, 1918–38
Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations

Rajendra Chitnis

Liverpool University Press

The chapter starts from the premise that the study of cultural diplomacy, dominated by a focus on major world powers since 1945, would be illuminated by a better understanding of the cultural diplomatic activities of small, new or restored European states after 1918. It further argues that attempts to incorporate literary translation into cultural diplomacy quintessentially highlight the difficulties of practising cultural diplomacy. The chapter centrally documents the extent and nature of government support for Czech literary translation in the UK, mapping the networks that facilitated the translation of Czech imaginative literature and assessing their relationship with Czechoslovak cultural diplomacy. The chapter shows that the translation and promotion of Czech literature in the UK, though never the product of direct state strategy or intervention, is always linked to gatekeeper sympathy for the idea and aims of Czechoslovakia, but the reception of translated Czech literature in the UK shows no appreciation of this aspect until after the September 1938 Munich Agreement, when, for Czechoslovakia, it is too late.

Keywords:   Czech literature, Cultural diplomacy, State funding, Translation, Gatekeepers

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