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Translating Gombrowicz’s Liminal Aesthetics


Pawel Wojtas

The book offers a novel attempt at recapitulating Gombrowicz’s aesthetics in the postmodern Anglo-American context. The research extends to English and American literary traditions in order to account for the ways the writer’s version of existentialism is interpreted in diverse contexts, generating alternative interpretations of his peculiar philosophy. Furthermore it demonstrates the ways in which textual indeterminacy and the nebulous notion of the Other underpin Gombrowicz’s text of existence. The final chapter undertakes to pair up the process of translation with the liminal act of participation. The translations of Gombrowicz’s selected works are juxtaposed to argue the extent to which his master tropes (fail to) preserve their otherness when translated into English, as well as to test the ways translation as a self-reflexive act responds to the otherness of texts determined by different hermeneutic conditions. This study intends to fill, if partially, some lacunae on the map of Gombrowicz’s Translation Studies and to inspire further debates on the related aspects of postmodern existentialism of his works.
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Chapter 2: Towards poststructuralist translation theory


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Chapter 2

Towards poststructuralist translation theory

Gombrowicz’s status as an existentialist varies across different critical accounts, largely as a result of divergent translations of his works. Nevertheless, research has demonstrated certain accuracies in the interpretation of Gombrowicz’s tropes.

Gombrowicz’s works are essentially, as agreed by critics, either mistranslated or, after a collision with Gombrowicz’s distinctive idiolect as well as impenetrable intertextuality, translated awkwardly at best. Strongly neologised and intertextual, the writer’s language caused translators to foreignise the translated text in quite the same manner, which resulted in obliterating Gombrowicz’s existential tropes. Other linguistically standardised translations served to oversimplify Gombrowicz’s philosophy, by reducing it to the level of plot only. In any case, despite the mistranslations, Gombrowicz is still regarded as an existentialist writer. Such a conception is, however, understood manifold across the countries in question, and contingent on their historical and cultural traditions. With regard to the latter, Gadamer’s notion of ‘fusion of horizons’ will be appropriated to account for the multifarious stances conditional on the proposed cultural and historical settings.

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