Irish Women and the Cultural Present
Chapter 9: Translation as Textual Pregnant Embodiment 179
Chapter 9 Translation as Textual Pregnant Embodiment In Chapter 8 I concentrated on the ways in which Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Medbh McGuckian strike at the foundations of language. Their col- laborative relationship is an all important element in that destabilizing process. In this chapter I examine McGuckian’s translation of two of Ní Dhomhnaill’s pregnancy poems from a longer sequence which appears in Ní Dhomhnaill’s 1991 collection Feis. Reading the Irish poems together with their English translations intensifies the various connections identified in the last chapter and extends their meaning. While the subject matter of the original sequence of poems encourages us to think dif ferently about subjecthood in general and female subjecthood in particular, translation magnifies this re-conceptualization. Just as the pregnant woman figured at the centre of both the Irish poem and its English version redefines subject- hood as transitional, translation also ‘births’ a transitional identity, capable of retaining a sense of self, while impregnated with the other. The entre- deux of translation opens the way for a re-conceptualization of patriarchal notions of subjecthood because the intermediary process of translation, like the pregnant woman herself, provides a way of theorizing transitional subjectivity. Such a re-conceptualization dismantles the mechanisms which place pregnant embodiment outside the frame of representation. This has vital implications for those who are culturally ‘othered’ within Irish soci- ety. Seeing identity as a matter of becoming as well as being demolishes debilitating stereotypes and restricting binaries. The body of this chapter focuses on the parallel between...
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