The Translating Self: Literary Translation and Life-Writing

Nikolaou, Paschalis (2006) The Translating Self: Literary Translation and Life-Writing. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis follows consciousness, subjectivity and the imaginative mind in sites of translation; it focuses on how what we may call self, from transient impressions to felt identity, and as reflected in linguistic idiosyncracies, embodied practices of reading or one’s literary voice, interacts with translating acts. Principal concerns lie with multilingual cognitions, with translation as experience, as an activity shifting towards fragments of self-expression while at the same time given to altering, (re)forming, and enriching the self sensed. Thus, emphasis is often on weavings of reading, writing and translating, on experiential aspects of literary/translational acts, on translation as an existential matter before it may partake of literary projects.

A life-writing impulse underwrites acts of self-expression, and is shared by writers and translators; this suggests explanations for poetic translation and hybrids between translation and original, and confirms versioning as expressive mode and part of the creative writer’s body of work. Through shifts in methodology, where theoretical discussion of literary writing, auto/biography and translation meets with case studies, practical explorations, and paratextual confessions of ‘voices from the field’, this thesis locates and witnesses a ‘translating self’ from multiple angles, engaging with translation in a variety of presentations, from self-translation to originals including translation, as the author traces the symptoms and formations of an auto/biographical imperative in texts of –or using– translation.

Encouraging co-occurrences of creative writing and literary translation, such an imperative asks that we consider a closer association of translation studies and research in life-writing, so as to better understand how translation relates to self-making, or recognise cases where translation echoes painful experience that is difficult to directly articulate. We need to rethink possible manifestations of life-writing, while also adjusting our views of creative desire. Thus, together with a focus on auto/biographical mindsets during translation, there is also broader comment on linkages of life, text, memory and narrative. Observant of manifold agitations of consciousness and experiential dimensions in translational environs, this thesis takes part in a general shift from the ‘visible translator’ towards ‘selves in translation’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2024 11:07
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2024 11:07


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