Anna Gadd


Rendering the local, the multicultural and the multilingual in Mr Scobie’s Riddle: a foreignising translation into Italian

In the microcosm of Elizabeth Jolley’s Mr Scobie’s Riddle characters speak a variety of foreign languages. The 1983 novel opens with a Latin citation from Horace’s Odes, accompanied by a translation from Latin into English. Later in the novel, Mr Scobie, in a letter to his nephew, quotes the opening of Schubert’s Die Winterreise in German and then attempts to translate it into English. Don Giovanni is cited in Italian. Proust is cited in French. Multiculturalism and multilingualism in literature are neither new nor uncommon. Mr Scobie’s Riddle, written mostly in English, contains excerpts in other languages, scattered throughout the novel and therefore poses an interesting challenge for translators. Elements specific to Australian culture also contribute to making Mr Scobie’s Riddle an exceptionally challenging novel to translate into other languages, even more so when translators aim to render the source text’s local flavour, its multiculturalism and its multilingualism without “sacrificing them on the altar of fine writing”, to borrow Kundera’s words (1995). In the attempt to maintain the different languages that compose the puzzle that is Mr Scobie’s Riddle and the representation of a European-rooted Australia in Italian, a foreignising translation of Mr Scobie’s Riddle, titled L’indovinello di Mr Scobie, is presented here.


Anna Gadd holds an MA and a BA in Modern Languages (translation curriculum) from Università degli Studi di Milano. She has submitted a doctoral thesis to The University of Western Australia in which she translated Jolley’s Mr Scobie’s Riddle into Italian. In Milan, she wrote two dissertations investigating issues of Translation Studies: one on the dubbing and subtitling of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and one on the 1993 Italian translation of Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. Anna attended and presented at translation conferences in Australia and Europe and her articles and reviews have been published in such journals as Aalitra, Jasal and Colloquy.