Frantz Fanon and the enigma of cultural translation

by Robert J.C. Young

The writings of Frantz Fanon were very quickly subjected to a form of cultural translation, not only in some of the more esoteric interpretations of his work, which take it very far from his own historical concerns, but also more literally: for today, for the most part, he is read in translation. Sales of his books in English far outnumber those of his original texts in French.
When the first English translation of Les damnés de la terre was published by Présence Africaine in Paris in 1963, it was called simply The Damned (Fanon 1963; Figure 1).
When it was published in London two years later, it was renamed, and given the title by which it is now known, The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon 1965; Figure 2). The following year, it was published in the USA, with the same title, but now with a subtitle, which ran, ‘A Negro Psychoanalyst’s Study Of The Problems Of Racism & Colonialism In The World Today’ (Fanon 1966; Figure 3).



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