Publication details [#13360]

Santaemilia, José. 2005. The translation of sex/the sex of translation: Fanny Hill in Spanish. In Santaemilia, José, ed. Gender, sex and translation: the manipulation of identities. Manchester: St. Jerome. pp. 117–136.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Source language
Target language
Title as subject


Sex is, without a doubt, one of the most intimate indicators of identity, as it conjures up images of sexual activity, eroticism, pleasure, taboo, fantasies, desire, etc. Likewise, language is the most intimate way of expressing sex. John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748-49) is the most famous erotic novel written in English: it is both a pornographic work and a philosophico-rhetorical exploration of sex and sexuality as a key discourse in eighteenth-century England. It also offers provocative and mixed-up perspectives: a male (Cleland's) fantasy about female (Fanny Hill's) sexuality for a predominantly male audience. This wealth of perspectives places a great deal of importance on translation – the translation of sex becomes a political act, with important rhetorical and ideological implications. Since its publication Fanny Hill has been an enormously popular novel, which has enjoyed innumerable translations into the major European languages. The earliest documented translations into Spanish, however, come from the 1920s. In this paper the author examines four Spanish translations of Fanny Hill from the late 1970s, after Spanish dictator Franco died: three of these translations were carried out by men (Lane 1977; Martínez Fariñas 1978; Santaemilia and Pruñonosa 2000) and one by a woman (Podestá 1980). The main objective is to test whether translating sexual language and imagery suggests different strategies for either male or female translators, whether there is any gender-associated struggle for rewriting the erotic into a different language.
Source : Based on publisher information