Shawn Gonzalez
Comparative Literature, Rutgers University
195 College Avenue
Colloquium - 6:00pm

Shawn Gonzalez will be presenting 'Translating Linguistic Conflict in Two'

The traditions of postcolonial and decolonial theory have established the centrality of linguistic conflict to the practice of literary translation. In this presentation, I will compare how the editors of two multilingual translation anthologies either engage with or suppress linguistic conflict in their projects. In Multiples: 12 Stories in 18 Languages by 61 Authors, the editor, British novelist Adam Thirlwell, avoids questions of linguistic conflict by focusing on literary style. Thirlwell invited novelists with varying levels of linguistic proficiency to serially translate short stories between English and other languages such as Arabic, Dutch, and Japanese. However, Thirlwell evades recognizing the power relationships among these languages. In contrast, the poetry anthology, Palabras de una isla/Paroles d'une île [Words of an Island], edited by Gahston Saint-Fleur and Basilio Belliard, centers on linguistic conflict. The volume features Haitian poetry translated into Spanish and Dominican poetry translated into French in order to highlight commonalities between the two poetic traditions, a strategy that directly engages the linguistic and political conflicts between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. When analyzing the texts' representations of linguistic conflict, context emerges as a crucial factor. Reading translation from a contextualized perspective reveals radical practices of translation coming from outside of the metropolitan centers of literary experimentation.