Publication details [#8256]

Lavoie, Judith. 2004. Huckleberry Finn in French: a translation project. In Arduini, Stefano and Robert Hodgson, eds. Similarity and difference in translation. Rimini: Guaraldi. pp. 245–256.
Publication type
Chapter in book
Publication language
Source language
Target language
Person as a subject


Mark Twain's famous novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was first translated into French by William-Little Hughes in 1886. An analysis of Twain's work based on the signification of Jim's dialect, Black English, shows that the author was subverting the traditional view of the slave as a submissive or idiotic character. In his novel, Twain wishes to condemn the white society of his time and to claim Black people's humanity. Hughes' translation project, on the contrary, denies the black character's humanity, reinforcing racial prejudices and white domination. This conclusion was brought through a semiotic approach of the text: all the choices made by the translator were of a similar nature, and thus revealed a signifying mosaic. Either through his speech, his actions, or the description made by the narrator, Jim is portrayed in Hughes' translation as a submissive and idiotic servant, and this aesthetic similarity of choices is maintained on a transformational level: the additions and cuts are designed to achieve that same goal.
Source : Bitra