The Politics of Relay Translation and Language Hierarchies: The Case of Stanisław Lem’s Solaris

  • Justine M. PasEmail author


This chapter proposes that the presence of doubly translated literary texts in English points to a political dimension of literary trends. Relay translations are commissioned and published because minority and less translated languages are not accorded importance or prestige. The chapter’s central argument is twofold. First, it argues that doubly mediated English translations indicate the position of source languages and literatures within the global hierarchies of cultural prestige. Second, by using as a case study the 1970 relay translation (via French) of Stanisław Lem’s critically acclaimed novel, Solaris, the chapter demonstrates that by introducing a third linguistic layer, cultural context, and translator, relay translation increases the likelihood of inaccuracies and errors, making it a method particularly unsuited to literary translation.


Relay Power hierarchies Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris Polish Science fiction translation Majority languages Paratexts 



The author would like to thank Lindenwood University’s scholarship committee for providing the time needed for this project. Many warm thanks to Bill Johnston, Travis McMaken, and Anthony Alvarez who generously shared their time and insight.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EnglishLindenwood UniversitySt CharlesUSA

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