Publication details [#19087]

Wyke, Ben Van. 2010. Imitating bodies, clothes: refashioning the Western conception of translation. In St. André, James, ed. Thinking through translation with metaphors. Manchester: St. Jerome. pp. 17–46.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


The concepts of translation and metaphor are intimately connected in the West. Not only do they share a common etymology in many European languages, but both have been designated as secondary forms of representation in the Platonic tradition. Consequently, translation and metaphor have undergone similar revisions in contemporary, post-Nietzschean philosophy, which has given them positions of primary importance. One metaphor that has frequently been used to describe translation is that of dressmaking – meaning is viewed as a body and the translator's job is to redress this meaning in the clothes of another language. Using this common metaphor, the author highlights a common thread in our conception of translation that has basically remained unchanged throughout the ages, a thread that can be tied directly to Plato's theory of representation. Nietzsche radically placed into question this Platonic model, beginning with a reformulation of the traditional relationship between metaphor and truth. After examining the implications of his critique of Platonism, the author turns to Nietzsche's own use of the metaphor of dress, which helps us recast our conception of translation by focusing on elements that have traditionally been left out of the picture.
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