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128 Afterword The Future of Self-Translation Writing It Twice has pursued two principal aims: to draw attention to self-translation as a prevalent and meaningful contemporary literary practice, and to activate a critical approach for reading texts by authors who, by virtue of engaging distinct language publics, inscribe their works into the sphere of world literature. I have suggested that attending to the varying strategies of self-translation employed by writers enables us to perceive with greater clarity the nature, scope, and ambitions of their aesthetic projects. The readings I advance across the book tease out the idea that, for multilingual writers, language choice is intimately imbricated with expression. To write a text twice is to explore the relationship between languages, as well as one’s own relationship to language. It should not be surprising, then, that contemporary practitioners of self-translation are often, though not always, invested in the art of self-representation. Writers like Federman , Semprun, and Bianciotti, and even to some extent Huston, teach us that self-translation can help to interrogate the very boundaries of self and text. For self-translation, whether practiced as autobiography or fiction, is above all else an act of boundary testing: situated, as it were, on the edge of language, it invites playfulness and subterfuge, constantly affirming and challenging its own borders. As the title of the book makes clear, self-translation is defined by and through the act of writing, of producing two texts that make a claim, however deceptively, to say the same thing. While we can imagine the possibility of translations without originals—and indeed translation scholars have theorized the literal and allegorical figure of Afterword 129 the “pseudotranslation”—self-translation is principally constituted, for the writer, by what we could call the cultivated production of redundancy, and for the critic, by a tendency to compare two linguistic versions of a text.1 Thus self-translation, in the most basic sense of the term, harkening back to Popovič’s foundational definition, has been understood as the result of two necessary features: a single author, and a pair of identical texts that differ only by language. Yet there are signs that new forms of self-translation have begun to emerge in the early twenty-first century, in ways that point to the porousness of its definitional boundaries. I have argued that selftranslated texts provide a particularly acute lens through which to study the stakes and implications of world literature, as they necessarily traverse national and linguistic frontiers. As such, self-translation also testifies to the changing forms of literary production and dissemination in an age of expanding digital technologies. By way of conclusion, I will focus on two recent illustrations of self-translation that might help us to imagine and make sense of alternative practices and meanings of “writing it twice” in the years to come. Toward a Model of Collaborative Self-Translation In April 2013, coauthors Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander published Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking with Basic Books, in which they argue for analogies as the core to explaining human cognition. Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach and a professor of cognitive science and comparative literature at Indiana University, and Sander, a professor of cognitive and developmental psychology at Paris VIII, wrote a parallel French version of their nearly seven-hundred-page text, L’Analogie: Coeur de la pensée, released two months earlier with publishing house Odile Jacob in France. As the authors make clear in their acknowledgments, the book constitutes a unique kind of self-translation project: We are quite proud of the fact that our joint book is the result of a very unusual creative process. Not just written by two people, it was written in two languages at the same time. To be more specific, this book has two originals—one in French and one in English. Each is a translation of the other, or perhaps neither of them is a translation. But however you choose to look at it, the two versions of this book have equal standing.2 Afterword 130 Hofstadter and Sander go on to encourage the bilingual reader to pick up both versions, providing “a special experience of savoring ideas fleshed out in two contrasting ways” (xi). Both a scholarly and accessible work, Surfaces and Essences / L’Analogie makes a case for analogies as the organizing principle of human thought. Analogies are, for Hofstadter and Sander, the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780810132061
Related ISBN
9780810132047
MARC Record
OCLC
930760533
Pages
185
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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