Retranslation in a postcolonial context: Extra-textual and intra-textual voices in Hubert Aquin’s novel of Québec independence Prochain épisode

Agnes Whitfield

Abstract

This article explores theoretical dimensions of voice in retranslation in postcolonial situations through a contextualized analysis of extra-textual and intratextual voices in the English-Canadian translation and retranslation of Prochain épisode, Hubert Aquin’s 1965 political novel on Québec’s independence from Canada. The three decades between the translations are marked by important social, political and cultural changes in both source and target language communities: from the 1960s turmoil with respect to Québec’s aspirations for independence to a certain political fatigue in both groups in the 2000s, from a focus within Québec letters on a national agenda to other aesthetic and cultural concerns, and from a colonial to a postcolonial editorial context in both Anglophone and Francophone literatures in Canada. What may appear as target culture recuperative strategies in the editorial and translatorial positioning of a retranslation may correspond on closer analysis to parallel changes in the source culture reception of the book.

Keywords
Table of contents

In 1964, while interned in a Montreal psychiatric institute awaiting trial for illegal possession of a firearm, Québec film director and militant for Québec independence Hubert Aquin wrote a short intense political novel on Québec’s separation from Canada, portentously titled Prochain épisode. Published in Québec in 1965 and in France in 1966, the book rapidly became a foundational text for Québec [ p. 76 ]literature, and a rallying call for Québec independence. In 1967, McClelland & Stewart, a Toronto-based English-Canadian publisher, printed an English translation by Penny Williams under the French title, Prochain Episode. In 1972, the translation was included in McClelland & Stewart’s New Canadian Library, and in 2001, the same publisher, under different ownership, replaced the original translation in its New Canadian Library with a new translation, Next Episode, by acclaimed, Canadian translator Sheila Fischman.

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