Marina Popea (NTU, Nottingham)


Marina Popea specialises in translation and cultural periodicals with a broad comparative focus. A Latin Americanist with an interdisciplinary background, she is in the last stages of her AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Oxford, focusing on the role of translation in shaping modern poetics in Mexican magazines of the early twentieth century. As a research fellow on the Spaces of Translation project, she works mainly on the digital aspects of the project and is particularly interested in developing tools to integrate quantitative and qualitative analysis in periodical research.

Latin American Modernisms in European Magazines (1945-1965): Translation and the Cultural Cold War

This paper examines the translation of Latin American works of literature that fall under the broad umbrella of Modernism in European magazines of the post-WWII period, and in particular their contribution to the debates around the purpose and nature of literature in the context of the cultural cold war. While the United States’ efforts to export its culture and literature to Europe and Latin America (often through translation) has been documented (Iber 2019; Barnhisel 2014; Barnhisel and Turner 2010; Berghahn 2002; Stonor Saunders 1999; Hixson 1997), less attention has been given to the circulation of Spanish American literary material towards Europe. Yet the post-war years were a period of internationalisation for Spanish American letters, which would result, before long, in the region’s first internationally renowned, best-selling authors (e.g., Gabriel García Márquez). In this paper, I analyse the intertwinement of this budding international recognition of Latin American writers with the logics of the cultural cold war. I argue that the works selected for translation in a range of magazines with varying degrees of connection to US interests (Preuves, Les Lettres Nouvelles, Encounter, Merkur, and Der Monat) uphold the country’s endeavours to define and promote “free” and “universal” artistic expression in the form of aestheticist and apolitical Modernism. To this effect, the short fiction of authors linked to the development of the new Latin American narrative in the mid-twentieth century, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Juan Rulfo, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa, was showcased and discussed. I thus bring into focus the use of Latin American Modernisms as part of an international political agenda in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the role of translation as a fruitful source of cultural soft power through the subtle conflation of ideology and aesthetics.