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Oulipians as Translators

Chris Andrews, Western Sydney University, Australia
Monday, February 11, 2019 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm
144 Louis A. Simpson International Building
Monday, February 11, 2019 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm

A significant number of the Oulipo’s members have produced substantial translations alongside their original writing: Raymond Queneau, Jean Queval, Jacques Roubaud, Georges Perec, Italo Calvino, Michèle Métail, Oskar Pastior, Daniel Levin Becker, Eduardo Berti, Pablo Martín Sánchez. How have composition and translation interacted in their work? What significance can we attribute to their choices of works to translate? Are there particularly Oulipian ways of translating? Can the Oulipo’s rule-based transformations of pre-existing texts be fruitfully considered as translations? Can translation in general be usefully conceptualized as a kind of constrained writing? Does the Oulipo’s approach imply a challenge to the distinction between original composition and derivative manipulation? Is it a form of “uncreative writing” or a democratization of creativity? The lecture will tackle these questions, examining examples from translations done by members of the Oulipo.

Chris Andrews teaches at Western Sydney University in Australia. He has translated books of Latin American fiction, including Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (New Directions, 2003), César Aira’s Shantytown (New Directions, 2013), and Selva Almada’s The Wind That Lays Waste (Graywolf, 2019). He has also published two critical studies: Poetry and Cosmogony: Science in the Writing of Queneau and Ponge (Rodopi, 1999) and Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe (Columbia University Press, 2014). His second collection of poems, Lime Green Chair (Waywiser, 2012), won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize.

Sponsored by
Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication