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An ‘Un-businesslike-business’: Publishing Danish literature in translation in the UK 1990-2015

Kythor, Ellen; (2019) An ‘Un-businesslike-business’: Publishing Danish literature in translation in the UK 1990-2015. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis provides a literary-sociological analysis of publishing Danish literature in English translation in the UK during a period of technological and market change. The early twenty-first century has seen a wave of British media and popular interest in Danish culture, partly inspired by the critical and cult appeal of Scandinavian crime fiction and television series including The Killing and Borgen. Translated literature represents a tiny fraction of books published in Britain annually, but the number of books translated from Danish has sharply risen since 2010. A pivotal editor/translator in this field described how this ‘un-business-like business’ is driven by its relationships. Consequently, this thesis provides an in-depth examination of the agents facilitating the entry of books from Danish into the UK. Processes and agents investigated include Danish state funding for translated literature, British small publishers (including Christopher MacLehose), conscientious literary translators, and a positive northern exoticism (borealism) in marketing. This thesis applies a descriptive theoretical framework with internationally-focused perspectives rooted in symbolic exchange of capital. Translated Danish books are regarded as coming from a semi-peripheral small nation entering a hypercentral anglophone market within the global literary system. In-depth comparative publication journeys of Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (1993) and Jakob Ejersbo’s Africa trilogy (Exile, 2011; Revolution, 2012; Liberty, 2014) are presented to illustrate and contrast publishing processes across the period of study. This ‘un-business-like business’ does not always follow a routine pattern, exemplified in this thesis by Danish to English publication journeys of books by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Suzanne Brøgger, Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen, Kim Leine, Alen Mešković, and Jesper Wung-Sung. The analysis is informed by a researcher-built corpus of books, archival materials and interviews with key individuals. The outcome is an original, comprehensive overview of the mobility of Danish books to Britain between 1990 and 2015.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An ‘Un-businesslike-business’: Publishing Danish literature in translation in the UK 1990-2015
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083579
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