Book reviewTranslating Montreal. Episodes in the Life of a Divided City.
Montreal & Kingston-London-Ithaca: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006. xvi + 280 pp. ISBN 0-7735-3108-4 27,50 CAD.
Reviewed by Hélène Buzelin
“Montreal’s history”, recalls Sherry Simon, “has been dominated by the spectre of separateness, and defined by efforts to respect or transgress the boundary between anglophone West and francophone East” (p. 4). Though this duality was central in shaping the life and history of the city, it has somewhat eroded, giving way to different partitions and a new sense of cosmopolitism. How to account for this gradual shift? How and why were contact zones created and who were the agents of these contacts? Above all, what does the history of the “divided city” tell us about the conditions of translatability and the role of translation in shaping cultural identities? These are the questions raised in Sherry Simon’s latest monograph. Rejecting once and for all the model of translation as a search for equivalence, the author remains faithful to the post-structuralist position she has adopted from her earliest writings, pushing the relation between linguistic translation, social interaction and displacement to its extreme.