The paper sets out to investigate the English translation of the Italian bestseller ‘Gomorrah’, written in 2006 by young Neapolitan author Roberto Saviano. The significance and the impact that ‘Gomorrah’ had on a global scale can be inferred by the synoptic introduction to its UK edition: […] Roberto Saviano compiled the most thorough account to date of the Camorra and its chilling significant role in the global economy. […] the Camorra has an international reach and large stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs and toxic-waste disposal. It exerts a malign grip on cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast and is the deciding factor in why Campania has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and why cancer levels there have skyrocketed in recent years. The fact that Saviano’s impassionate nonfiction fascinated and shocked readers in more than fifty countries across the globe inevitably raises questions about the cultural transfer of elements pertaining to Naples’ criminal culture that cannot easily be extricated from their local socio-economic context and which are mostly alien to the target reader. Interestingly enough, such transfer also occurs in the source text itself: some of the references contained in ‘Gomorrah’ may be regarded by many Italian readers as locally-bound i.e., ‘embedded’ in a less familiar Southern cultural framework populated by social and human depravities. Indeed, Saviano recently mentioned on a TV show that most of the Camorra news stays local, mainly because most crimes, killings and unlawful acts taking place in Campania are not sufficiently reported by national channels and therefore remain largely unknown to most Italians. As a response to this problem, ‘Gomorrah’ was conceived by its author as a wake-up call to break through the indifference that generally greets Camorra stories. So, in a way (although on a different scale), both the source text and the target text work in the same direction: they aim to raise public awareness about these lesser-know mobsters and warn against the dangers of a hidden though deadly machine constantly at work. One of Saviano’s aims is, in fact, not only to make it clear that the Mafia and the Camorra are two separate criminal organizations, but also that the Camorra now dwarfs both the Sicilian Mafia and southern Italy’s other crime organizations, in numbers, in economic power and in ruthless violence. Upon closer examination however, the English version appears tentative in giving the Camorra an autonomous cultural representation for the target audience. Despite the Camorra’s power and considerable scale, as well as its distinctive symbols, practices and well-defined hierarchies, the English version frequently relies on references to Sicilian Mafia and on Mafia-related classifications to ‘filter’ images and identities that pertain to the scenario of the Camorra. This clashes with the awareness-raising intent of the author and prevents the Camorra from gaining full representation as a criminal phenomenon whose repercussions are global and can no longer be overlooked.

Constructing the Identity of Naples Crime Syndicate: the Role of Translation

CALIENDO, GIUDITTA
2011

Abstract

The paper sets out to investigate the English translation of the Italian bestseller ‘Gomorrah’, written in 2006 by young Neapolitan author Roberto Saviano. The significance and the impact that ‘Gomorrah’ had on a global scale can be inferred by the synoptic introduction to its UK edition: […] Roberto Saviano compiled the most thorough account to date of the Camorra and its chilling significant role in the global economy. […] the Camorra has an international reach and large stakes in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs and toxic-waste disposal. It exerts a malign grip on cities and villages along the Neapolitan coast and is the deciding factor in why Campania has the highest murder rate in all of Europe and why cancer levels there have skyrocketed in recent years. The fact that Saviano’s impassionate nonfiction fascinated and shocked readers in more than fifty countries across the globe inevitably raises questions about the cultural transfer of elements pertaining to Naples’ criminal culture that cannot easily be extricated from their local socio-economic context and which are mostly alien to the target reader. Interestingly enough, such transfer also occurs in the source text itself: some of the references contained in ‘Gomorrah’ may be regarded by many Italian readers as locally-bound i.e., ‘embedded’ in a less familiar Southern cultural framework populated by social and human depravities. Indeed, Saviano recently mentioned on a TV show that most of the Camorra news stays local, mainly because most crimes, killings and unlawful acts taking place in Campania are not sufficiently reported by national channels and therefore remain largely unknown to most Italians. As a response to this problem, ‘Gomorrah’ was conceived by its author as a wake-up call to break through the indifference that generally greets Camorra stories. So, in a way (although on a different scale), both the source text and the target text work in the same direction: they aim to raise public awareness about these lesser-know mobsters and warn against the dangers of a hidden though deadly machine constantly at work. One of Saviano’s aims is, in fact, not only to make it clear that the Mafia and the Camorra are two separate criminal organizations, but also that the Camorra now dwarfs both the Sicilian Mafia and southern Italy’s other crime organizations, in numbers, in economic power and in ruthless violence. Upon closer examination however, the English version appears tentative in giving the Camorra an autonomous cultural representation for the target audience. Despite the Camorra’s power and considerable scale, as well as its distinctive symbols, practices and well-defined hierarchies, the English version frequently relies on references to Sicilian Mafia and on Mafia-related classifications to ‘filter’ images and identities that pertain to the scenario of the Camorra. This clashes with the awareness-raising intent of the author and prevents the Camorra from gaining full representation as a criminal phenomenon whose repercussions are global and can no longer be overlooked.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/481016
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