Publication details [#63939]

Fernández, José Francisco. 2018. Translating for nothing. A new Spanish translation of Samuel Beckett’s Texts for Nothing. Babel 64 (2) : 175–185.
Publication type
Article in journal
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Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


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).