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Showing posts from February 10, 2013

'sputtering hand' : FINNEGANS WAKE IN CHINESE

Philip Harvey When Georges Perec’s French novel La Disparition, a text missing the letter E, was translated into English (‘Anglais’ preferred in this context), many people asked, Why? The literary challenge of writing a book without the main vowel was one of Perec’s interests. Indeed, it was his purpose, because it drew attention to something overwhelmingly vital that was actually missing. One never reads the book in French without thinking that the main letter isn’t there, which is what Perec wanted his reader to think. This absence was a reminder of other absences in postwar France that haunted Perec and his audience. He draws attention to absence through the artifice of his book, and by its very linguistic structure. An English translation in which E has been elided might seem perverse. Has the translator served literature well, or simply gone to excessive trouble to repeat a trick that could not repeat the hidden message on the French absence? Translation is always