CFP: Translation as Commentary (France) (5/15/06; Paris Sorbonne Conference, 10/13/06-10/14/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Maryvonne Boisseau



Translation as Commentary
Going from translation as commentary to commenting on translation

It is widely recognized that translating a text implies more than just
reading and transferring the original text into another language. It
requires that the translation be conducted "from a certain point of =20
even though this point of view may not be fully conscious, so that the
result constitutes an unwitting commentary on the original text. Not =20
only is
the translator unaware of the process involved, as he is convinced =20
that he
is producing the best, if not the definitive, translation of the =20
text, but
so also is the reader who turns to the translated version because he is
unable to understand the original text. It is also recognized that new
translations of the text will inevitably appear sooner or later, with =20=

new translation broadening the scope of the initial version, =20
revealing other
facets of the text, delivering its meaning, rhythm and concerns in a
different way. As new translations appear, the potential of the text is
gradually made obvious, articulating differences which, =20
paradoxically, are
only obvious to those readers who are able to have access to the =20
text and do not need a translation. It is precisely this aspect of =20
commentary that calls for exploration and acknowledgement so that the
inexpert reader, who cannot have access to the text in its original
language, may become aware of it.
Thus "scholarly" translation is gradually enriched, developing its =20
own gloss
and becoming a commentary on itself, making sure that every turn of =20
every divergence and every daring choice is explained. By turning into a
commentator on his/her own effort and uncertainties, the translator, who
addresses a reader supposedly lacking expertise, paradoxically tends =20
to mask
the hidden commentary actualized through his/her translation. These
sometimes polemical attempts at justification tend to present the
translation as "the final truth" of the text, even though it is =20
only a temporary version.
Therefore, it seems essential to explore and delineate the overlapping
conceptual fields of justification, explanation, gloss, comment and
commentary. According to Antoine Berman, the commentary " =20
'actualizes' the
potential contained in the text itself" up to the point where it departs
from the text and becomes autonomous by acknowledging its function. =20
In the
same way, the various translations and re-translations can be =20
considered as
a system of texts which form an "un-actualized" or "un-actualizable"
commentary. Taken as a whole they make up an undefined text, which is =20=

contained in either of them but which is a kind of "hypertext" that =20
as their common horizon.

Hidden commentary, explanatory commentary, critical commentary: it is a
whole range of different kinds of commentaries which the act of =20
calls forth. The contrastive study of original texts and their
translation(s) should bring these various forms of commentary to =20
light and
show how they emerge and articulate their differences, how they may shed
light on, or mask, the text they are supposed to uncover, explain and

The colloquium will be held on 13 -14 October 2006 at the Institut du =20=


Proposals of circa 300 words in French or English, should be sent by =20
15 May
2006 at the very latest to :

Christine Raguet (
Maryvonne Boisseau (
Institut du Monde Anglophone
Universit=E9 Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle
5, rue de l'=C9cole de M=E9decine
75006 Paris

The papers will be published, after acceptance by the editorial =20
board, in
Palimpsestes, N=B0 20=

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Received on Fri Jul 29 2005 - 08:39:42 EDT