Translation, Intertextuality, Interpretation
Intertextuality is central to the production and reception of translations. Yet the possibility of translating most foreign intertexts with any completeness or precision is so limited as to be virtually nonexistent. As a result, they are usually replaced by analogous but ultimately different intertextual relations in the receiving language. The creation of a receiving intertext permits a translation to be read with comprehension by translating-language readers. It also results in a disjunction between the foreign and translated texts, a proliferation of linguistic and cultural differences that are at once interpretive and interrogative. Intertextuality enables and complicates translation, preventing it from being an untroubled communication and opening the translated text to interpretive possibilities that vary with cultural constituencies in the receiving situation. To activate these possibilities and at the same time improve the study and practice of translation, we must work to theorize the relative autonomy of the translated text and increase the self-consciousness of translators and readers of translations alike. To explore these ideas, three cases will be considered: Rossella Bernascone’s 1989 Italian version of David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago; Kate Soper’s 1976 English version of Sebastiano Timpanaro’s study, Il lapsus freudiano. Psicanalisi e critica testuale (The Freudian Slip); and my own 2004 English version of Melissa P.’s fictionalized memoir, 100 colpi di spazzola prima di andare a dormire (100 Strokes of the Brush before Bed).
Lawrence Venuti works in early modern literature, anglophone and foreign-language poetic traditions, translation theory and history, adaptation studies, and literary translation. He translates from Italian, French, and Catalan. He is a member of the editorial and advisory boards of several journals, including Target: International Journal of Translation Studies, The Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication, and Translation Studies. He has edited special journal issues devoted to such topics as translation and minority (The Translator in 1998) and poetry and translation (Translation Studies in 2011). His work has appeared in numerous periodicals in print and online, including Asymptote, boundary 2, Critical Inquiry, The Guardian, Journal of Visual Culture, the Times Literary Supplement, and World Literature Today.
His translation projects have won awards from the PEN American Center (1980), the National Endowment for the Arts (1983, 1999), the National Endowment for the Humanities (1989), and the Guggenheim Foundation (2007). In 1999 he held a Fulbright Senior Lectureship in translation studies at the Universitat de Vic (Spain). In 2008 his version of Catalan writer Ernest Farrés’s book of poems, Edward Hopper, received the Robert Fagles Translation Prize. He has also been a visiting professor at such institutions as Barnard College, Johannes Guttenberg Universität-Mainz, Princeton University, Queen’s University (Belfast), and Università degli Studi di Trento