Imagined Originals, Original Translations: Putting Pseudotranslation on the Map
- Brigitte Rath (Innsbruck University / Princeton University)
Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605/15), Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes (1721), MacPherson’s Ossian (1761), Mérimée’s La Guzla (1827), Louÿs’s Chansons de Bilitis (1894), Raja Rao’s Kanthapura (1938), many of Borges’ short stories, Makine’s La Fille d’un héros de l’Union soviétique (1990), and Doubled Flowering: From the Notebooks of Araki Yasusada (1997) are only some of the numerous – often canonized – original texts that invite the reader to read them as if they were translations, to imagine a preceding original produced in a different language and for a different audience. By oscillating between original and translation, these texts explore issues at the heart of comparative literature, such as translatability (e.g. via footnotes by a fictitious translator), linguistic and cultural contact (Montesquieu sparked a genre of reverse ethnographies), questions of voice, authenticity and authorship (such as the much-discussed case of the Hiroshima poems by “Araki Yasusada”), and the desire to locate origins (Ossian is an obvious example). There is no established field of research for this ubiquitous phenomenon. A scarcity of cross-references between individual contributions coincides with an overabundance of terms: “Pseudotranslation”, made popular by translation studies scholar Gideon Toury; “fictitious translation” (Bassnett), “translation with no original” (Apter), “assumed translation,” “fake translation,” or “original translation.” This seminar brings scholars working on pseudotranslations together to discuss individual case studies and find connections between them, to look at specific genres that were shaped by such texts, to discuss the concept and its many names, and to map pseudotranslation as a productive field for comparative literature.
SEMINAR KEYWORDS: Pseudotranslation, fictitious translation, assumed translation, translatability, authenticity, voice, ventriloquism, authorship, paratext, superimposition, hybridity, multilingualism