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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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‘The weight of every word’: Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted Houseand Three Italian Translations - ANNA MARIA CIMITILE 133


ANNA MARIA CIMITILE ‘The weight of every word’: Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House and Three Italian Translations I feel in my fingers the weight of every word… This declaration of insolvency before translation. In her Diary Virginia Woolf annotated: ‘I feel in my fingers the weight of every word, even of a review’.1 If life is indeed ‘a luminous halo’, is writing an ‘imprisonment of life in the word’, as Eudora Welty once wrote referring to Woolf,2 or are there words apt to re- lease, rather than capture, the halo that life is? In this essay I address the question by comparing three Italian versions of the short story A Haunted House.3 Translation is a kind of reading, and I propose that we consider the comparative study of translations as part of the act of reading literature.4 1 Virginia Woolf, Diary V, edited by Anne Oliver Bell, London, The Hogarth Press, 1984, p. 335. 2 Eudora Welty, “Mirrors for Reality”, The New York Times, 16 April 1944. 3 See A Haunted House, in Virginia Woolf, The Complete Shorter Fiction, Lon- don, Triad Grafton Books, pp. 122-3. The text first appeared in Monday or Tuesday in 1921. Hereafter quoted directly in the body of the text. 4 As Jacques Derrida remarked: ‘the only ones who know how to read and write – translators. Which is another way of recognizing a summons to translation at the very threshold of all reading-writing’. Jacques Derrida, “What Is a ‘Relevant’ Translation?” (1999), in Lawrence Venuti...

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