This entry aims to redefine the feminist translation strategy of recovery, proposed by Françoise Massardier-Kenney in 1997, by focusing on the context of censorship under Francoism (1939-1975). In this case, “recovery” could be redefined as the publication (in the source language) or (re)translation of women’s texts that were censored during the Franco dictatorship, either partially (deletion of passages, pages, sections) or totally (complete censorship). 

The origin of feminist translation practice

Since the late 1970s, the field of translation has become entangled with feminist issues. The experimental work of Quebec women writers has allowed translators who share the same ideological concerns to use strategies and subterfuges to make the feminine visible in the translated text. As Olga Castro (2008) suggests, contemporary feminisms – framed in a temporal context of postmodernism, poststructuralism and postcolonialism – have contributed to reshaping and renewing translation theory. Feminist interventions have blurred obsolete notions such as equivalence, questioned gender and writing roles, and distrusted traditional hierarchies and universal norms defining fidelity in translation.

In this regard, Luise von Flotow (1991) invented, categorised and illustrated the main feminist techniques for a rewriting in the feminine: compensation, preface and footnotes, and hijacking. Although they are not essentially feminist, as they are already existing translation strategies and practices, they can be adapted to a feminist – ideological – purpose. While compensation is about linguistically bridging the differences between languages, prefaces and footnotes are spaces where translators can acknowledge their active/engaged presence in the translated text or reflect on their translation practice. Hijacking, the most polemical and therefore most criticised of these techniques, refers to the appropriation by feminist translators of texts that are not feminist in intent. Suzanne Jill Levine’s translation into English of Cabrera Infante’s La Habana para un infante difunto (1979) is an example: the novel, which the translator considers “oppressively male” becomes Infante’s Inferno (1992). Thus, the feminist translator intervenes in the text in order to subvert it according to her own ideology. Though diametrically opposed, censorship under Francoism can be equated to a form of “hijacking”.

Feminist translation strategies

In 1997, Massardier-Kenney compiles, revisits and renames feminist translation strategies with particular attention to publishing, editing, translating and recovering lost works by women writers. Massardier-Kenney describes three translator-centred strategies: commentary, parallel texts and collaboration, and three author-centred techniques: recovery, commentary and resistance.

Among the author-centred feminist strategies, Massardier-Kenney describes “recovery” as the rescue (via publication of the text in its original language and/or translation) of texts by women writers that were (or remain) excluded from the canon. Examples include the translation of Madame de Staël’s Corinne (published by Rutgers University Press in 1991), the collective translation of George Sand’s autobiography Story of My Life edited by Thelma Jurgrau (published by State University of New York Press, also in 1991), and the publication of Françoise de Graffigny’s Letters of a Peruvian Woman in French and English in the accessible MLA Texts and Translations series (1993). In Spanish, the Breve historia feminista de la literatura española (1993) by Iris Zavala and Miriam Díaz-Diocaretz is another outstanding example.

The recovery of women writers’ texts that have been lost and discarded from the canon not only redirects interest towards these writers but also helps rewrite a historiography of women’s texts (Godayol, 2020). As Massardier-Kenney (1997, p. 59) points out, the translation and publication of these women authors has helped reshape the history of French literature.

Recovery of censored texts

After the Spanish Civil War and the advent of the Franco dictatorship, a complex system of censorship was put in place in Spain in order to control all forms of art: literature, press, art, cinema, radio, etc. Thus, this repressive system diverted works that did not conform to their ideological structure, organised around the pillars of the dictatorship: morality, the Catholic religion and the Regime. Therefore, the canon, what was considered and judged as “publishable” or “acceptable” was defined according to the ideological system of the target culture. This was the case for the French-Russian writer Elsa Triolet, who was excluded and censored in Spain because her communist ideas did not match the principles of the Regime (Panchón Hidalgo, forthcoming).

In this context, recovery could be redefined as the publication (in the source language) or (re)translation of women’s texts that were censored during the Franco dictatorship, whether partially (deletion of passages, pages, sections) or totally (complete censorship). As José Santaemilia (2011: 16-17) points out: “the recovery of […] women authors or translators can only enrich a country’s literary, cultural, social or political heritage”. The decision to (re)translate and publish such books is a way of “recovering” and making accessible “lost” women’s writing (Von Flotow, 1996: 184). In Spanish, this term could be translated as ‘recuperación’, a term that can be observed in Constantino Reyes’ (2020: 174) review of Pilar Godayol’s (2017) book. Reyes explains that Translation Studies have embraced the questioning of what is translated, why, for what purpose, and the ‘recuperación’ of the visible presence of those who translate, with an emphasis on female authors and translators.

Furthermore, in Spanish universities, the study of the intersection between ‘gender, women and translation’ has led to the ‘recuperación’, over the last twenty years, of women translators, texts and paratexts, once invisible by the dominant discourses (Godayol, 2020: 116). In French, however, there are two possible translations for the term recovery: ‘récupération’ or ‘réhabilitation’. The word ‘récupération’ could be used to refer to works by women writers that have been completely forgotten. For example, Axelle Cressens (2020: 2) argues that feminist thought and practice allows for the creation of new languages and meanings, the putting into words of experiences that have been silenced, as well as the recovery of voices that have been unheard. According to Pauline Moulin (2020: 55), ‘récupération’ is the rediscovery of women’s texts in order to redefine the literary canon. ‘Réhabilitation’ is also used to refer to works by women authors that have been forgotten and subsequently recovered. In Youlia Maritchik-Sioli’s doctoral thesis (2020: 58), it is stated that, in the case of Russian literature, many female researchers are working on the rehabilitation, rereading and rediscovery of unknown and forgotten female writers in order to reinscribe them in the literary history of their country. Moreover, in Myriam Heritier’s MA thesis (2019: 36), Massardier-Kenney’s term ‘recovery’ is also translated as ‘réhabilitation’. In Ginette Castro’s article (1986: 400), the aim is to show how the rereading of women writers is a new way of looking at things and how this rereading is perceived as a rediscovery, a revision or even a ‘réhabilitation’.

In the following table (Table 1), we summarise the meanings of the term “recovery” in English, Spanish (“recuperación”) and French (“récupération”/“réhabilitation”), taking into account the examples of use mentioned above:



RecoveryAccessing ‘lost’ women’s writings.
RecuperaciónTo make women writers and translators more visible.
RécupérationRediscovering voices that have been silenced.
RéhabilitationTo rediscover and re-read unknown and forgotten authors in order to reinscribe them in the history of literature.

Table 1: meanings of the term “recovery” in english, spanish and french

From the point of view of translation, recovery involves the retranslation of texts whose importation has failed or whose translation was banned. In the case of books that have been banned altogether, the strategy of commentary can also help to recontextualise the work that is now published in a completely different time and context. For example, such a strategy could be carried out in the recovery of Triolet, whose short story La Belle épicière – belonging to Mille regrets (1942) – was translated in Mexico in 1956 but was not finally imported into Spain during the Francoist period. Our short-term project is to recover the whole of Mille regrets, which has still not been translated in Spain. However, La Belle épicière has already been translated as part of a 2022-Degree Thesis at the University of Granada, but it has not yet been published, as our intention is to translate the other three short stories and get a Spanish publishing house to publish them.

Prologues or epilogues, on the other hand, can be an opportunity to reflect on the excerpts that were once censored, and which have now been restored, focusing on the reasons why they were censored. In the case of partially censored works, we suggest that the formerly censored fragments may appear in bold to show that they did not appear at the time, an expression technique to counteract the silent effect of censorship. Triolet’s Goncourt Prize-winning work Le premier accroc coûte deux cents francs (1944) was censored by Franco’s apparatus. Following our suggested practice, the censored fragments, which have now been recovered, could be put in bold. Censorship can also be made visible on the front and back covers in order to emphasize under the title of the book that it is a restored version, in which the effects of the censorship have been removed.

As Massardier-Kenney (1997) has explained, much remains to be done. Despite efforts in recent years to translate and publish an increasing number of women writers, many are still censored, untranslated and unread. This seems to be the case of 20th century English women novelists who, according to Gora Zaragoza Ninet’s study (2008), have only been partially translated into Spanish (only 40 % of a corpus of 110 English women novelists born between 1901 and 1999 in England have at least one translated novel into Spanish). Censorship is as devastating as it is silent: it is only when we suspect it and dig into it that it emerges

To quote this entry

Panchón Hidalgo, Marian; Zaragoza Ninet, Gora :”Recovery (of censored texts by women writers)”. Dictionnaire du genre en traduction / Dictionary of Gender in Translation / Diccionario del género en traducción. ISSN: 2967-3623. Published on January 03 2023. :


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censorship, censura, censure, estrategias feministas, Francoism, franquisme, franquismo, recovery, recuperación, récupération, réhabilitation, stratégies féministes, traducción, translation, translation