Self-translation was a topic at the international conference Tranfiction 3 which took place at Concordia University, May 27-29, 2015. Please find below the abstracts of the contributions on self-translation.
Rainier Grutman: Non interpres sed orator: Self-translational self-fashioning/la posture d’autotraducteur.
In this bilingual presentation, I will focus on the image projected and created by self-translating writers, on their discursive identity in other words, as it can be seen unfolding in prefaces, correspondence, and interviews. My analysis of this “paratextual” material will draw on Stephen Greenblatt’s notion of “self-fashioning” (which owes quite a bit to Michel Foucault) and on Jérôme Meizoz’s « posture d’auteur » (an offshoot of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology). Preliminary results indicate that much of the rhetoric deployed is oppositional in nature, i.e. it serves to construct translating and writing as not only two different but axiologically opposed practices (hence my title’s reference to one of the most famous prefaces in translation history, Cicero’s De optimo genere oratorum). We will see how and why this is the case.
Nadia Louar: Bilingual Beckett: The figure(s) of bilingualism in Beckett’s work
Bilingualism in Samuel Beckett’s œuvre engages a process of rewriting that operates at all strata of his composition and generates a network of repetitions of which intertextuality, transposition, adaptation and all forms of doubling participate. It thus functions as the paradigm for all the formal decisions that led Beckett from being a novelist, to a playwright, a poet and a stage/film director and back. This paper proposes to elucidate the complexities of the author’s identity as a bilingual Irish writer-in-exile. Rather than assessing the author’s literary bilingualism as a fact of linguistic competence attached to a culture and a nation, I will conceptualize the phenomenon as an aesthetic category and show how the passage between French and English (and vice versa) is repeated in those between genres and media.
Xuanmin Luo: Translating, rewriting or trans-writing? A case study of Eileen Chang’s self-translation of Jinsuo Ji
Regarded as “a rewriting of an original text” (Lefevere 1999), a translation functions as an independent literary product in a target culture. When a writer translates his or her own work, “trans-writing” is perhaps a better term than “rewriting.” This paper will focus on Eileen (Ai-ling) Chang’s self-translation of her novel Jinsuo Ji (The Rouge of the North), first published in Chinese in 1945. There are major differences between the original and its translation: changes in plot and characters, added explanations of Chinese customs, for example. This paper will highlight the ways in which this self-translation can be considered a case of trans-writing, illustrating the writer’s efforts to mediate and negotiate between two cultures. The success of the translation is particularly significant, since it paved the way for Chinese literature to be accepted worldwide. This not an isolated example; the case can be applied to self-translation by writers elsewhere.
Jane Koustas: Polyphony, voice-over, translation as selfie
From Les variations Goldberg (1981) to Danse noire (2013), Nancy Huston’s literary voice has remained polyphonic. The reader experiences the narrative via a polyphonic filter that requires that s/he “combine” the different versions such as in Les variations Goldberg or, like the narrator, engage with the other/double such as in Infrared. The act of speaking through or for another led Huston to assume a male voice in her performance piece “Le Mâle Entendu.” As a self-translator who now translates while she writes the original, Huston introduces another “silent” voice-over, namely that of her English voice; her novels are written with the translation in mind and, indeed, in progress. As in a selfie, Huston is consciously “seeing” and hearing herself in her English voice or double as she writes and translates. This study considers the relationship between polyphony in Huston’s work and her self-translation.
Valeria Sperti: Fictional translators in the novels of Nancy Huston
Between the publication of Cantique des plaines in 1993 and Danse noire in 2013, Nancy Huston developed an important critical reflection on bilingualism and divided identity, while the issue of self-translation remained secondary. My presentation analyzes the evolution of the notion of linguistic division in Huston’s novels and demonstrates how themes of translation and self-translation become increasingly important. The audible friction between languages plays an essential role in maintaining the reader’s interest, and instances of cultural interference abound, leaving traces that reveal an interesting linguistic and semantic dissonance. In her most recent novels – particularly Infrarouge and Danse noire – Huston makes interlinguistic translation and its commingling with intersemiotic translation the two integral elements of her transfiction to the point that translation begins to approximate an autobiographeme.
Paola Puccini: Between hetero-translation and self-translation, towards creative translation: The case of Marco Micone
The work of playwright, translator, and self-translator Marco Micone highlights two salient points: the impact of the literary genre on creation and translation, and the relationship between hetero-translation and self-translation. Our aim will be to investigate the complex relationship between writing and translation with reference to Micone’s translation of Carlo Goldoni, which triggered, for the author, an important process of discovery and reflection. We will first examine Micone’s translation of Goldoni’s Locandiera (1993) and then consider his self-translation of Gens du silence (1996) into the Italian Non era per noi (2004) as an intermediary transition to his 2004 Silences. Our multidisciplinary approach will draw on Translation Studies, Cultural Anthropology and intercultural communication theory.
Ann Marie Boulanger: Self-translation and Nancy Huston
Self-translation, the process whereby an author translates his or her own work into another language, has long been viewed, and even scorned, as a literary curiosity at best, and a betrayal of the translation process at worst. Yet, self-translation has a long history and has been practised by some of humanity’s greatest writers. This presentation will cover the history of self-translation in broad strokes, and discuss the various motivations for self-translation and the contexts in which it takes place. Some of the theories and concepts at play in self-translation include agency, cultural mediation, bilingualism, and the cultural turn in translation. Emphasis will be placed on the prolific Canadian author and self-translator Nancy Huston, who was raised as an anglophone but adopted France as her home and French as her language of creation. This presentation will cite examples of her work and discuss her motivations for writing in a language other than her mother tongue. Finally, the disputed status of self-translation will be discussed, in particular as it applies to the debates and controversy surrounding Huston’s work.
Nicodème Niyongabo: The politics of self-translation: Multilingualism in Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow and Devil on the Cross
Sociolinguistic studies of emerging indigenized varieties of English have emphasized the influence of “inner circle” English (in the U.S. and U.K.) on the development of English in the “outer circle.” However, the influence of “World Englishes” on translation has received little attention. Our project investigates the East African variety of English that blends lexical elements of Kiswahili in Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s self-translated novels Devil on the Cross (1982) and Wizard of the Crow (2006). Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s work as an essayist, novelist, playwright, activist and commentator places African indigenous languages and culture in the centre and stresses issues of multilingualism and power relations between English, Kikuyu and Kiswahili. Our study of the translations reveals that both the Kikuyu source texts (T1) and their counterpart English versions (T2) sketch the English-Kiswahili-Mother tongue triple configuration underlying regional language policies. This poster will present the corpus of our project, our tentative research questions, our research methodologies, and some preliminary findings.
Elizabeth Saint: Portraits of self-translation: Fransaskois theatre
The intentions behind a writer’s decision to undertake the “difficult, tedious, and repetitive” task of self-translation (Grutman, 2007, p. 220) influence its presentation, the strategies employed and the type of translation produced. We will compare two pieces of Fransaskois theatre – La Maculée by Madeleine Blais-Dahlem and Bonneau et la Bellehumeur by Raoul Granger – to shed light on aspects of self-translation in Fransaskois drama. We will examine contextual constraints, publication formats, paratexts and translation strategies. Blais-Dahlem and Granger are, like all translators, agents of “intercultural communication” (Vermeer, 1989), and they share a skopos oriented toward “building communal bridges” (Day, 2013). However, while the first develops his personality as a bilingual writer, the second erases any trace of his intervention as a self-translator. An analysis of the translation strategies employed reveals the interdependence between the original and the self-translation in the case of Blais-Dahlem, but the autonomy of the two versions in the case of Granger.
For more information on the conference, please click here.