Translating for nothing
A new Spanish translation of Samuel Beckett’s Texts for Nothing
The starting point of the present article lies in a question posed by Raymond Federman in a well-known essay on Texts for Nothing: “What form can fiction take when it encounters everywhere nothing but verbal dust?” (Federman 2001: 161). Any critical description of this collection of Beckett’s short pieces points to the worn-out quality of the language, as if the process of negation had deeply affected style with the result of having a text in its final stages of decomposition, of being the remnants of a conscience in the process of dissolution. Apropos of a new translation into Spanish of Texts for Nothing / Textos para nada (2015), the author of the new version wants to reflect on the impossibility of translating words that seem to be so fragile and exhausted that the act of moving them to another language would necessarily entail the definitive shattering into pieces of an already thin fabric of words. The questions that will be addressed are related to the theoretical framework needed to handle this frail material: How can the translator negotiate the conflicting meaning of words without reinforcing its inconsistency even further? By which mechanisms can a translator of Texts for Nothing support his/her work considering, in the words of Hannelore Fahrenback and John Fletcher, “the ghostly dimension of space/time inhabited by this disembodied voice”? (Fahrenback and Fletcher 1976)
Keywords: Samuel Beckett, Texts for Nothing , Textes pour Rien , translation into Spanish, Samuel Beckett’s poetics
Keywords: Samuel Beckett, Texts for Nothing , Textes pour Rien , traduction en espagnol, poésie de Samuel Beckett
Published online: 27 August 2018
Adams, Robert M.
Fahrenbach, Hannelore; and John Fletcher
1976 “The ‘Voice of Silence’: Reason, Imagination and Creative Sterility in Texts for Nothing ”. Journal of Beckett Studies 1 (Winter). http://www.english.fsu.edu/jobs/num01/Num1Fahrenback_Fletcher.htm
Garforth, Julian A.
Fitch, Brian T.
Knowlson, James; and John Pilling
Rose, Marilyn Gaddis.
2000 “Nothing is More Real. Experiencing Theory in the Texts for Nothing ”. http://web.archive.org/web/20100510212614/http://www.bbk.ac.uk/english/conf/anotherbeckett/sheehan/index.html
Van der Weel, Adriaan; and Ruud Hisgen