What kind of literature is a literary translation?
This paper is a kind of manifesto for a new conception of literary translation as a unique literary genre that is imitative but qualitatively different from, and not necessarily worse than, the model it imitates. It explores this possibility by first interrogating Gérard Genette’s model of literariness in Fiction and Diction – considering how literary translation as a unique genre might fit that model – and then considering what the literary translator imitates, and the relationship between translation and the novel as similar imitative genres. Key to this comparison is the novel’s early (and continuing) reliance on the “found-translation framing device,” which is effectively what Gideon Toury calls a pseudotranslation but is not (necessarily) designed to hide original creation – rather, to play with the illusion of reality. The paper ends with the suggestion that literature tout court might be reimagined in terms of its transformative energies – and that translation might come to be seen as one of literature’s most definitive genres.
Keywords: literary translation, Genette, literariness, genre
Published online: 20 September 2017
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