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Masking Strategies

Unwrapping the French Paratext


Edited By Alistair Rolls and Maire-Laure Vuaille-Barcan

Gérard Genette’s seminal study of the paratext, Seuils (1987), is the starting point for this collection of essays, all of which seek not only to engage with Genette’s taxonomy and apply it, but also to interrogate it and to move through and beyond it. In addition to mapping Genette’s organization of (para)textual space onto a number of French texts, including novels and plays, texts translated into French, book series and publishing marketing material, these essays take up some of the challenges raised in Seuils as well as posing their own. For example, the relationship between Genette’s work and deconstructionist approaches to text and the intersection of paratextuality and translation, which are hinted at by Genette, are explored in more detail in the volume, as is the notion of moving through and beyond the paratext. As such, this book offers a significant re-engagement with and deployment of paratextual theory and practice.


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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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