Book reviewThe Problem of Translating “Jabberwocky”. The Nonsense Literature of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear and their Spanish Translators With a Foreword by Juan Sager. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2007. x + 370 pp. ISBN 978-0-7734-5358-6 .
Reviewed by Marta Mateo
Nonsense is the subversive and creative use of language par excellence. It turns the semantic and pragmatic values of words and utterances upside down, challenging our interpretation skills, indeed our sense of logic and understanding. Nonsense may be humorous—actually playing a crucial role in generating the comedy of a text—but it is not necessarily so; it may be unsettling or simply puzzling. The various roles assigned to nonsense since it made its appearance in the world’s literatures, the fact that it may be found in different genres—prose, poetry and drama, even though poetry seems to be its natural home—and in the works of writers from different times and styles, together with its elusive definition, may all explain why it has hardly been studied as a literary genre in its own right and why it has not received much attention from Translation Studies researchers. Various articles and volumes on the translation of wordplay—a nonsense creating device, but certainly not the only one—have been published (e.g. Delabastita 1996 and 1997), but Pilar Orero’s is the first comprehensive monograph on nonsense as a genre from a translation standpoint.