Borges and Us. Exploring the Author-Translator Dynamic in Translation Workshops
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The Translator (2012)

The traditional notion of the translator as someone who should remain invisible while reproducing the original and/or intentions of the author is still commonplace today in translation workshops. Although it has been radically called into question by poststructuralist theory, this type of theory often does not ‘translate’ into what students understand as the practice of the craft. The essay draws on a comparative study used with the author’s students that involved eight English versions of Jorge Luis Borges’s 1960 text ‘Borges y yo’ to indirectly introduce them to poststructuralist notions of translation, reading and authorship that can help them confront the limitations of the traditional conception of translation and assist them in developing the critical capacity to work responsibly through the complexities involved in the task of rewriting someone else’s text in another language. This activity – with its combination of close readings of the eight translations together with an analysis of the text’s plot in the context of the contemporary notion of the ‘death of the author’ – helps students discover that they cannot escape complex ethical decisions related to their agency both as readers of an ‘original’ and as authors of their translations, even when, as is the case with one of the translations, the author has collaborated with the translator.
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