Translating Transgressive Texts: Autofictional Women’s Writing in French
University of Glasgow
16 January 2017
The dialogical relationship between women’s writing and translation is in a constant state of redefinition and reinvention. As new literary trends emerge, so too do new modalities in translation develop in response to the challenges of these new aesthetics of articulation. One such recent trend is the definitive shift towards the transgressive in post-millennial French and Francophone women’s writing. Grappling with previously seldom articulated aspects of lived experience including prostitution, matrophobia, anorexia and transgenderism, contemporary women writers are engaging with such topoi in diverse ways, and often through the prism of autofictional narratives. In this paper, I will examine the specific challenges which accompany the translation of this transgressive turn in women’s writing. Using a comparative case study based on two texts, namely, Nelly Arcan’s Putain (2001) and Nina Bouraoui’s Garçon manqué (2000) and their translations into English as Whore (2005) and Tomboy (2007) respectively, I will examine how references to gender identity, female sexuality and female corporeality are translated. Highlighting a selection of pertinent examples, I will analyse how these references are translated via a theoretical framework based on feminist translation theory and Beauvoirian theories of gender and sexuality. Furthermore, as both texts under study are considered to be works of autofiction, I will also explore the role which translation plays in constructing certain images of these women writers in the target culture, specifically by analysing the paratextual framing of both the author and her text.
Dr Pauline Henry-Tierney is a lecturer in French and Translation Studies at Newcastle University. Her recently completed doctoral thesis is entitled ‘Transgressive Textualities: Translating Gender, Sexuality and Corporeality in Contemporary French and Francophone Women’s Writing’. Publications include an article on translating gender and sexuality in Nelly Arcan’s Putain and Paradis, clef en main, a book chapter on sexual alterity in translating Catherine Millet’s La Vie sexuelle de Catherine M. and a forthcoming book chapter on the subject of matrophobia.