Lawrence Venuti  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Lawrence Venuti (born 1953) is an American translation theorist, translation historian, and a translator from Italian, French, and Catalan.



Born in Philadelphia, Venuti graduated from Temple University. He has long lived in New York City. In 1980 he completed the Ph.D. in English at Columbia University. That year he received the Renato Poggioli Award for Italian Translation for his translation of Barbara Alberti's novel Delirium.

Venuti is currently professor of English at Temple University. He has also taught as a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Trento, University of Mainz, Barnard College, and Queen's University Belfast.

He is a member of the editorial or advisory boards of Reformation: The Journal of the Tyndale Society, The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication, TTR: Traduction, Terminologie, Redaction, Translation Studies, Target: An International Journal of Translation Studies, and Palimpsestes. He has edited special journal issues devoted to translation and minority (The Translator in 1998) and poetry and translation (Translation Studies in 2011). His translation projects have won awards and grants from the PEN American Center (1980), the Italian government (1983), the National Endowment for the Arts (1983, 1999), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (1989). In 1999 he held a Fulbright Senior Lectureship in translation studies at the University of Vic (Spain).

In 2007 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his translation of Giovanni Pascoli's poetry and prose.

In 2008 his translation of Ernest Farrés's Edward Hopper: Poems won the Robert Fagles Translation Prize.

Thought and influence

Venuti has concentrated on the theory and practice of translation. He is considered one of the most intense figures in modern translation theory, often with positions that substantially differ from those of mainstream theorists. He criticizes the fact that, too frequently, the translator is an invisible figure. He has been engaged in translation criticism ever since he started translating.

His seminal work, The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation, has been a source of some debate since its publication. In it, he lays out his theory that so-called "domesticating practices" at work in society have contributed to the invisibility of the translator in translations, claiming that legal and cultural constraints make it so that "'faithful rendition' is defined partly by the illusion of transparency", such that foreignizing or experimental types of translation are "likely to encounter opposition from publishers and large segments of Anglophone readers who read for immediate intelligibility". This leads to a climate in which "fluency" is the most important quality for a translation and all traces of foreignness or alterity tend to be purposely erased.

Comparative literature scholar Susan Bassnett points out Venuti's emphasis on a translator-centered translation and his insistence that the translator should inscribe him/herself visibly into the text.


  • Our Halcyon Dayes: English Prerevolutionary Texts and Postmodern Culture (1989)
  • Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology (anthology of essays, editor) (1992)
  • The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation (1995; 2nd ed. 2008)
  • The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference (1998) (read a review here).
  • Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (1998) (contributor)
  • Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation (2000) (contributor)
  • The Translation Studies Reader (2000; 2nd ed. 2004; 3rd ed. 2012) (a survey of translation theory from antiquity to the present; editor)
  • Translation Changes Everything: Theory and Practice (2013)


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