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Translingual intertextuality

ERI Building - G52
Arts and Law, Research
Tuesday 10th January 2017 (14:00-15:00)
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  • Research Seminar Series

Speaker: Dr Juliette Taylor-Batty (Leeds Trinity University)

Venue: ERI Building, Room G52

What happens when intertextual appropriation occurs across languages? What transformations and mutations ensue? In this talk, I will examine the phenomenon of what I term ‘translingual intertextuality’ in Anglophone modernist writing.

Modernist literature is famously allusive: T. S. Eliot openly declared that ‘mature poets steal’. What has not been adequately scrutinised by critics, however, is the specifically translingual nature of so much of that intertextuality: Eliot’s indebtedness to French poetry, Joseph Conrad’s use of Maupassant and Flaubert, Katherine Mansfield’s controversial ‘plagiarism’ of Chekhov, Ezra Pound’s persistent use of translation as a mode of composition, Jean Rhys’s ambiguous ‘sharing’ of work with her husband Édouard de Nève. In all of these examples, ‘appropriation’ occurs across languages, often through translation, and often results in texts that are themselves multilingual.

Focusing on examples from Eliot, Rhys and Beckett, I will illustrate some of the ways in which the appropriation and mutation of source texts in other languages serves to unsettle English, to highlight questions of translation and cultural difference, and to undermine the possibility of linguistic as well as textual ‘ownership’. Translingual intertextuality, in such cases, becomes not a ‘derivative’ or ‘secondary’ form of writing, but constitutes a transformative act that, I argue, is at the heart of modernist constructions of ‘newness’.

Juliette Taylor-Batty is Senior Lecturer in English at Leeds Trinity University. She is the author of Multilingualism in Modernist Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and of a range of articles and chapters on Jean Rhys, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Vladimir Nabokov, Salman Rushdie and Eugene Jolas. She is co-author (with Mark Taylor-Batty) of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (Continuum, 2009). Her current book project examines the relationship between modernist writers’ work as translators and their ‘original’ writing, with specific focus on the explicit use of translation for compositional purposes, unacknowledged use of sources (including purported cases of plagiarism), and deliberately appropriative forms of translation.

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