Festschrift in Honour of Christina Schäffner
Michaela Wolf, Graz: “At The Centre Of The Female Inferno” – Elfriede Jelinek’s Novel "Lust" In English Translation
Michaela Wolf Graz “At The Centre Of The Female Inferno” – Elfriede Jelinek’s Novel Lust In English Translation 1 Introduction When Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in 2004 for her “musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power,” the reactions of the international public were quite divided. Critics like those which characterized her as an “unknown, undistinguished, leftist fanatic” (Schwartz 2004) had the upper hand. Yet, Nobel Laureates do not receive the Prize for their mainstream literature; on the contrary. What seems to be a truism, but is hardly ever mentioned, is that in most cases, the Jury members (of the Nobel and any other international Prize) evaluate an author’s translations, and not the orig- inals. This said, it is all more astonishing that Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize, particularly considering the fact that she herself is explicitly concerned that her works are “untranslatable,” and that—in the specific case—English au- diences would never understand them (Kavenna 2004). These statements, how- ever, seem to be contradicted by the facts. In Great Britain, at least, Jelinek is viewed as one of the greatest contemporary German language authors, and it is without doubt that the Nobel Prize has contributed to this high reputation. As a markedly inconvenient and sharp critic of Austrian society and Aus- tria’s Catholic and authoritarian environment, Jelinek denounces the hypocrisies of social conventions and patriarchal traditions. Accordingly, the...
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