Penguin Books and the Translation of Spanish and Latin American Poetry, 1956-1979

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This article accounts for the social interactions that gave rise to Penguin’s translation of Spanish and Latin American Poetry during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Drawing on the Actor-Network Theory of Bruno Latour, it traces the editorial discussions that led to the adoption and abandonment of different translation policies: the dual-language subseries of the Penguin Poets, which employed prose translation; and the verse translation of the Penguin Modern European and Latin American Poets. Shifts in policy responded to divergent conceptions of the publisher’s educational purpose: from J. M. Cohen’s enthusiasm for the pleasures of the foreign text to Tony Godwin’s desire to challenge complacency about the wider world. These intentions took various form as further participants were engaged to translate, comment on, edit, and promote individual publications. Often regarded as an institution, Penguin is revealed as a focal point for conflicting initiatives that came from within and without the organization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-57
Number of pages30
JournalTranslation and Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Penguin
  • Spanish to English translation
  • poetry translation
  • Bruno Latour
  • Actor-Network Theory
  • J. M. Cohen
  • Tony Godwin
  • Nikos Stangos

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