Since the 1980s, one strand of translation theory has likened translators to psychoanalysts who treat incoherent narratives. This article uses Constance Garnett's 1917 translation of Chekhov's "The Black Monk" to study how translators seek to "cure" original texts. In this case, since Chekhov's protagonist is ill, the translator's treatment occurs at various levels of the narrative. The article is built around the longstanding conflict between foreignizing and domesticating translation theories, staged directly in the translator's struggle with the fictional character. The two practices are equated, over the course of the paper, with two medical modes: infection and inoculation. Chekhov's original text embraces the former, casting untranslatability as a necessary textual disease; his translator promotes the latter, disinfecting the original through her translation. Garnett's translation strategy discloses an anxiety provoked by Chekhov's story, and also reveals more generally how illness may be necessary to the transmission of texts.


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pp. 256-276
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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