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Translating Virginia Woolf


Edited By Oriana Palusci

Translating Virginia Woolf is a collection of essays that discusses the theory and practice of translation from an interdisciplinary perspective, involving research areas such as literature, linguistics, sociolinguistics, cultural studies, and history. It is the outcome of a selection of papers given at the international conference by the same title, held at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ in 2010.
Interweaving literary threads and target languages such as Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, German, Italian, Serbian, Spanish, and Swedish, this volume traces the history of the translation and reception of Woolf’s fiction and feminist pamphlets. It investigates the strategies of translation of several of her works in different countries and cultural contexts through the contrastive analysis of one or more editions of the same Woolfian text. The final result is a symphony of languages, spreading the notes of Virginia Woolf’s modernist and feminist discourse across Europe and beyond.


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Translating Virginia Woolf’s Music - PIERPAOLO MARTINO 63


PIERPAOLO MARTINO Translating Virginia Woolf’s Music In a study entitled The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Meton- ymy and the Typology of Modern Literature, David Lodge notes how ‘Virginia Woolf exemplifies very clearly a tendency among modernist writers to develop from a metonymic (realist) to a metaphoric (sym- bolist) representation of experience’,1 nevertheless, according to Lodge ‘Woolf’s metaphorical mode is correspondingly different from Joyce’s. It might be said that whereas his writing aspired to the condi- tion of myth hers aspired to the condition of lyrical poetry’.2 If, according to Caribbean poet Kamau Brathwaite, ‘poetry is a form of music’3 then Woolf’s writing enacts not only the passage from the metonymic to the metaphoric, that is from prose to poetry, but also from literature to music. Her major works and in particular To The Lighthouse and The Waves see the author involved in a very complex process of intersemiotic translation.4 Woolf’s prose is indeed based on a constant translation of the musical into the literary; in this process the reader – as George Steiner suggests in his classic book After Ba- bel5– becomes a translator, a listener and a performer (himself/herself) and the very act of reading a concert in which the novel resonates of a 1 David Lodge, The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy and the Ty- pology of Modern Literature, 1977; the section on “Virginia Woolf” in Su Reid ed., Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, London, Macmillan, 1993, p. 23. 2 Ibid., pp. 23-24. 3 Pierpaolo...

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