Comptes rendus de lecture

Traducción y di-ferencia, edited by Assumpta Camps, Montserrat Gallart, Iván García and Victoriano Peña, Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona, 2006.[Record]

  • María Sierra Córdoba Serrano

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  • María Sierra Córdoba Serrano
    University of Ottawa

The present volume is the result of the work carried out by the CRET-Grup de Recerca Consolitat de la Universitat de Barcelona and it is the third volume of Transversal, a collection specialized in contemporary thought on translation. Composed of 21 articles, very different in approach and theme, Traducción y di-ferencia offers an interesting overview of the impact post-structuralism has had on Translation Studies. Drawing primarily on Derrida, Barthes and Foucault, translation theorists have recognized that meanings are inherently non-stable and must be interpreted in every instance: each reading of a text (and, consequently, each translation) produces a simulacrum of an “original” that is itself the mark of the shifting and unstable subject, using and being used by a language that is also shifting and unstable (Derrida, 1998). Under this assumption, the dichotomy between original and translation no longer applies as the original is not conceived as a depositary of an intentio operis (Umberto Eco) nor the translation a replica of this authorial intention. As Camps indicates in the prologue (p. 30) it is precisely the post-structural revision of dichotomies such as original vs. translation, author vs. translator, fidelity vs. betrayal and the authors’ reflections on the phenomenon of “translation as difference” that constitutes the common denominator at the core of this otherwise diverse volume. Although the articles in this volume are not divided into sub-categories, but merely organized by alphabetical order, I will group them here by “theme” in order to facilitate the presentation of the content. I am aware, however, that some articles may seem to have been forced into groups or that the grouping may be oversimplified. As we will see later, this is somewhat the result of the organizational shortcoming of the present volume. Comellas presents Kundera’s and Borges’s radically opposite positions on authorial meaning: whereas for Kundera “La obra es la casa del autor y de nadie más, y las reescrituras son una especie de mal necesario, intermediarias indeseables pero imprescindibles” [The work is the author’s house and nobody else’s, and rewritings are a necessary evil, undesirable intermidiaries, but very much needed] (p. 98), for Borges “Presuponer que toda recombinación de elementos es obligatoriamente inferior a su original es presuponer que el borrador 9 es obligatoriamente inferior al borrador H – ya que no puede haber sino borradores. El concepto de texto definitivo no corresponde sino a la religión o al cansancio” [To assume that every combination of elements is inferior to its original involves saying that draft number 9 is necessarily inferior to draft H, as there can only be drafts. The concept of definitive text does not emanate but from religion or tiredness] (p. 105). Borges is also the protagonist of Camps essay. She highlights the originality and innovation of Borges’s thought on translation for his time. In fact, already in the 1930s Borges had offered some ideas that only years later would find echo in post-structuralist criticism. Several articles focus on the concepts of “fidelity” vs. “betrayal” or “success” vs. “failure” of a translation: Bosak synthesizes the formulations of authors as diverse as Nietzsche, Eco, Borges, Haroldo de Campos, and Larbaud, while the Lessa article expands on Haroldo de Campos and his anthropophagic school’s approach, who conceive translation as “una re-creación, o creación paralela, autónoma y todavía recíproca” [a re-creation or parallel creation, autonomous and yet reciprocal] (p. 181). Godayol, for her part, focuses her reflection on reading translation practices from an intertextual angle in which the translator tries to reproduce a previous moment of intertextuality, participating, simultaneously, in a new network of intertexts specific to a new community. Another aspect …