Unwrapping the French Paratext
Edited By Alistair Rolls and Maire-Laure Vuaille-Barcan
Covering Up: Translating the Art of Australian Crime Fiction into French 119
JEAN FORNASIERO and JOHN WEST-SOOBY Covering Up: Translating the Art of Australian Crime Fiction into French The paratext constitutes a kind of ‘threshold’ or liminal space – as signalled, in appropriately self-referential fashion, by the title of Gérard Genette’s seminal essay on the subject.1 As such, it is the site for dialogue between the textual zone it foreshadows and the ‘extra-textual’ space of the reader’s world: if, as Philippe Lane has noted,2 the function of the paratext is to act upon potential readers and lure them in towards the text, it also serves, conversely, to project the text out of its strictly diegetic domain. It thus mediates between the text and the hors-texte. Moreover, like all liminal spaces – the hotel lobby, the shore, the airport or train station – the paratext is a dynamic and unstable space whose status is fundamentally ambiguous. It admits of intrusions, both from within and from without, so that the line of demarcation between the text and the hors-texte is frequently blurred and dif ficult to draw with precision. If it is a border, then it is a porous one. And not only are its contours f luid, but it is also, in and of itself, made up of layers – a kind of mise en abyme, as it were, of the layered relationship on the macro level between text, paratext and hors-texte. Of the various dermal layers that make up the paratext, it is the cover that constitutes the epidermis. As the first point of...
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