Cognition and Comprehension in Translational Hermeneutics
A Hermeneutic Reading of the Works of Jiři Levý
The work of Jiři Levý, the pioneering Czech translation scholar of the 20th century, shares a lot of common ground with the (neo)hermeneutic approach in translation studies. A closer look reveals, however, a good number of differing, and even opposite stances. For chronological reasons, Levý himself cannot be regarded a member of the neohermeneutic movement in translation studies; thus, the following questions arise: 1) What is the extent of overlap between Levý’s work and that of the main representatives of the hermeneutic approach in translation studies, mainly in Germany, and 2) how can this overlap be explained? This article seeks to demonstrate the following: There are full ‘matches’ between the two approaches, including some aspects of methodological approach, the value of texts, creativity, translating as a decision process as well as Levý’s concept of perception on the one hand and the hermeneutic circle on the other. A partial overlap between the two approaches has been identified in terms of the following matters: the applicability of translation theory, the language and style of theoretical works, the application of game theory, and the focus on individuals (recipient, translator). As regards differences, these include thematic focus, the idea of a personal link between the text and its recipient, and the concept of subjectivity. The purpose of the article is to show that, rather than being a (direct) predecessor, Levý can be regarded as a precursor of the hermeneutic approach in translation studies. Hopefully, illustrating this affinity between Levý and the hermeneutic approach will foster an interest in his theory, which is marked by openness and dynamism – qualities that also abide in the hermeneutical approaches of our present time.