Saturday, 29 June 2013

Beckett and Self-Translation..

Reading a number of articles on Beckett as self-translator. The question arises of whether an author of a work can ever be only its translator. That is, is he ever just translating the text or is he actually continuing it. I don’t of course mean ‘continuing’ in the sense of writing a sequel, tying up loose ends. He is, I suppose, continuing to mine the impulse from which the text sprang but which it could not exhaust. In this sense, the inexhaustibility of the text is not just for the reader but for the writer too.

Perhaps the original text was itself a translation, a translation into language. Here is how it unfolds in English, here is how it unfolds in French. Each idiom unfolds from the hidden reserve into which the writer is made to reach in the act of translation.

This implies that the text (or better the work - novel, poem) is not synonymous with what's in print before us. There is something in the text more than the text itself.
Beneath the printed text is a chaos of ‘possibles’. The finished text was won from this chaos but the author-translator must descend into it once more.

But perhaps where is a further twist with Beckett. A sense in which Beckett's texts  - as Deleuze suggests - are sometimes about this futile but necessary attempt to exhaust, to mine-out, the silence, the reserve of silence and chaos from which the text first sprang.

1 comment:

  1. This idea, that the self-translator is not only translating the apparent original text, but reaching into self and the non-evident origin of the text, reminded me of the following:

    Another Dimension

    The hidden world has its clouds and rain, but of a different kind. Its sky and sunshine are of a different kind. This is made apparent only to the refined ones - those not deceived by the seeming completeness of the ordinary world.

    Jalaludin Rumi