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With her startling debut novel, Near to the Wild Heart (Perto do coração selvagem), published in 1943 when she was just 23, Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector established herself as a singular writer who merged literary talent with a deep sense of mysticism. By 1977, the year of her death and the publication of her last novel, The Hour of the Star (A hora da estrela), Lispector had become known as one of Brazil’s greatest writers. Nearly four decades later, Clarice Lispector is finally gaining an equivalent reputation on the world literary stage, cited as “the most important Jewish writer since Kafka” and drawing comparisons to internationally renowned writers such as Woolf, Stein, Joyce, Nabokov, and Chekhov. In this talk, I will consider how a new series of translations, starting in 2011, have inspired “Lispectormania,” building on earlier waves of attention, influenced by the 1960s Latin American Boom, Hélène Cixous and French feminism in the 1980s, and the multiculturalism of the 1990s. I propose that the unprecedented impact of the most recent translations of Lispector into English, with my translation of The Complete Stories (2015) as the sixth book in this series, is due in large part to a different approach to translating Lispector’s work. This approach privileges Lispector’s idiosyncratic style in contrast to previous translations, which smoothed over her choices to create a fluid yet more conventional effect. I draw on my own experience in translating Clarice Lispector to consider the importance of her far-ranging style in understanding her work and its development over the course of her writing career.
Katrina Dodson is the translator of The Complete Stories, by Clarice Lispector (New Directions; Penguin UK 2015). Her writing and translations have appeared in Granta, Guernica,Harper’s, McSweeney’s, and The Believer, among other publications. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality. Her dissertation, “Traveling Proprieties: the Disorienting Language & Landscapes of Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil,” considers the ways in which poetics, translation, and geographical imagination inflect the North American poet’s writing in a Brazilian context.
In this workshop, we will discuss the ways in which translation works as both performance and literary interpretation. How does the translator adopt a range of voices and registers, like an actor performing a script or a musician performing a score? What interpretive methods factor into the decision to translate “galinha” as “chicken” rather than “hen” or to maintain punctuation that challenges accepted rules of grammar and style? After a brief overview of some theories of translation, from Walter Benjamin to Lawrence Venuti, we will consider examples of key challenges that arose while I was translating Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories. I will highlight how elements of performance and interpretation became crucial to resolving these dilemmas. We will then focus in particular on the story “Love” (“Amor”), from the 1960 collection Family Ties (Laços de família), comparing the choices in my 2015 translation to Giovanni Pontiero’s 1985 translation and to the original Portuguese. This exercise in comparative translation will offer ways to reflect upon the ways that translation, like writing, is never a neutral, mechanical process and always marked by individual affinities.
Dr. Euridice Silva's ongoing research is focused on Brazilian Theater and Popular Culture, with a special recent emphasis on multi-mediatic representations, adaptations and interconnections of literature, theatrical performance, film, TV, the plastic arts, music and photography. His research is informed by modern theories and discourses of national identity, alterity, contemporary art, cultural semiotics and issues of gender and race. Dr. Silva is the chair of our Portuguese Section, supervisor of the Portuguese Language Lower Division, academic and programs abroad advisor, and Library Liaison for Portuguese and the Latin American Studies IDP.
The work of Rubens Ghenov lies at the intersection of fact and fiction where painting, storytelling and sound comprise the preponderance of his work. Both their vernacular and potential inexorably constitute the architecture of his praxis. As an immigrant turned naturalized citizen, Ghenov has become accustomed in localizing the past and the present in this precarious juncture where fact coupled with memory compose fiction.
Within this nebulous triad, the work takes its form attempting to procure a form of poetry where all interests collide, conflate and concoct a work where the familiar assimilates and deliquesces into the abstract, and vice versa. A metabolism where fact slowly coalesces with or into fiction and the latter disassembles itself in verisimilitude and the invented. The vocabulary of self portraiture, still life and abstraction amalgamate, although remaining somewhat undissolved in the work to form another type of idiom, a kind of broken bilingual language.
Rubens Ghenov was born in São Paulo, Brazil and immigrated to the US in 1989. He received his MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2010. Ghenov has shown nationally in both solo and group exhibitions at Morgan Lehman Gallery (NY), Geoffrey Young Gallery (MA), TSA Brooklyn (NYC), Woodmere Art Museum (PA), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PA). In 2013, he co-curated with Dona Nelson the 72nd Annual Juried Exhibition at the Woodmere Art Museum. Ghenov has been featured in The Village Voice, Bomb Magazine, Title Magazine and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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