The Work of Jiří Levý
The well-known Translation as a Decision Process by Jiří Levý appeared in 1967. However, in the same year, Levý incorporated this article, in a revised version, into his extensive Czech essay Geneze a recepce literárního díla (The Genesis and Reception of a Literary Work) published in 1971.
The essay, in an abridged version, has come out in its English translation under the title The process of creation of a work of literature and its reception in 2008, in the volume Tradition versus Modernity, edited by Králová and Jettmarová.
The English version is abridged (omitted are descriptions of Levý’s experiments, his section on the construction of literary characters, etc.). Nevertheless, readers familiar with Translation as a Decision Process will find a remarkable difference between the 1967 and 2008 versions and may come to see the structuralist model with its methodological and socio-cultural aspects in a different light.
Jiří Levý (1926-1967)
Jiří Levý was born in Košice (1926), eastern Slovakia. His father was a teacher and translator from French. Because of the political turmoil at the outset of World War II, his family moved to Prague. In 1949 Levý graduated in Czech and English at the University of Olomouc, where he subsequently taught English literature, in 1964 moving to Brno University as head of the Department of Czech. He died in 1967, leaving a wife and two children.
Levý is the founder of Czech translation studies. His voluminous České theorie překladu [Czech Theories of Translation] (1957), written at this time, was the first comprehensive history of translation in Czech. It was followed by Umění překladu [The Art of Translation] (1963, 1983, 1998, 2012) and his well-known Translation as a Decision Process (1967). His Art of Translation was published in a revised form in translations into German (1969), Russian (1974), Serbo-Croat (1982), and English (2011). These are only three titles out of over 200 that he produced as an author and/or editor over a period of fewer than 20 years. Actually, translation and its history, theory, methodology, and practice were just one of his interests. He also ‘indulged’ in comparative versification, English literature, and the general theory of literature, including the mathematical theory of verse. Some of his writings were originally published in languages other than Czech.
©Zuzana Jettmarová 2014, copy editor – Patrick Corness