The Bibliografia gramsciana, founded by John M. Cammett, and now edited by Francesco Giasi and Maria Luisa Righi, in collaboration with International Gramsci Society, is a database of books, papers and articles on Gramsci starting from 1922 and of editions of Gramsci’s writings as from 1927. Contact us for updates or corrections at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In this essay we set off on the quest for translation-translatability leitmotiv, remembering that Gramsci was "a revolutionary, a historicist" and, at the same time, a student with a solid background in glottology at the University of Turin. A first starting point, long before the prison years, is the debate on Esperanto, in which Gramsci took part in January 1918. One may consider the idea of the translation of historically determined languages, to which Gramsci later gave so much importance, as the negative side of any "Esperantism". Parallel to this, as from 1919, revolutionary political action came more and more to be presented as a form of translation. The metaphor of the "translation" into the West of the Russian experience, which even in 1925 Gramsci was presenting as typically Leninist, then however was of use to him in the Notebooks as an instrument for theoretical and political emancipation from the Russian experience itself. At the theoretical level, the thought of Labriola was one of the other important sources for the centrality of the idea of translation in Gramsci. It was exactly the text in which Labriola indicated the need to reformulate historical materialism as a "philosophy of praxis" that insisted on the necessity to translate the "arms and methods of criticism" adapting them "from country to country". This text, evoked in one of the very first Notes on Philosophy (Q4, §3, May 1930; in English Prison Notebooks, vol. II, 1996, p. 140; Selections from the Prison Notebooks, 1971, p. 388), is decisive for Gramsci's reflection on the philosophy of praxis as the reciprocal translation of philosophy and politics. This consideration itself is based on certain texts of Marx's (the Theses on Feuerbach and the Holy Family), and was developed in a particularly thoroughgoing way in October and November 1930, months that were crucial for the entire politico-theoretical elaboration of the Notebooks. Gramsci here rethinks Marxism, beginning from the idea of translation both in order to combat schematisms leading to an artificial division of the real between economic noumena and ideologico-political appearances (Croce), and in order to take it away from any dogmatic reduction to an abstract logic or theoretical Esperantism (Bukharin). 1932 was the year of the further and last detailed development of the notion. This now allowed him to think the "reduction" of all philosophies to "a moment of historico-political life" (Q10, II, §6; in English Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks, 1995, p. 306). Moreover, it also became decisive for an understanding of the relation of the philosophy of praxis not only to French politics and classical German philosophy, but also to the economics of David Ricardo. In parallel with this, again in 1932 and also in 1933, in his letters to Julia (Jul'ka) and Tanja, Gramsci makes explicit his conception of the political task of the translator, who must always make use of the "historically determined language" (Lettere dal carcere, 1996, p. 613-614; in English Letters from Prison. Antonio Gramsci, vol. II, 1994, p. 207) of the civilization that adopts a foreign text. In the end, translatability appears as the instrument that allows one to think the unity of theory and practice that, for Gramsci, belongs typically to the thought of Marx and which is the foundation of the superiority of the philosophy of praxis over any other philosophy.
Available online: Laboratoire italien (Accessed December 19, 2016)
|FA PARTE DI:||Gramsci da un secolo all'altro, 2016|
|SUBJECT:||Labriola Antonio; Translatability; Marxism|