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Polyglot Joyce

Polyglot Joyce: Fictions of Translation

Patrick O’Neill
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 340
  • Book Info
    Polyglot Joyce
    Book Description:

    James Joyce?s writings have been translated hundreds of times into dozens of different languages. Given the multitude of interpretive possibilities within these translations, Patrick O?Neill argues that the entire corpus of translations of Joyce?s work ? indeed, of any author?s ? can be regarded as a single and coherent object of study.Polyglot Joycedemonstrates that all the translations of a work, both in a given language and in all languages, can be considered and approached as a single polyglot macrotext.

    To respond to, and usefully deconstruct, a macrotext of this kind requires what O?Neill calls a ?transtextual reading,? a reading across the original literary text and as many as possible of its translations. Such a comparative reading explores texts that are at once different and the same, and thus simultaneously involves both intertextual and intratextual concerns. While such a model applies in principle to the work of any author, Joyce?s work from Dubliners to Finnegans Wake provides a particularly appropriate and challenging set of texts for discussion.Polyglot Joyceillustrates how a translation extends rather than distorts its original, opening many possibilities not only into the work of Joyce, but into the work of any author whose work has been translated.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7862-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Numerous discussions have already appeared in print relating to the hundreds of existing translations of James Joyce’s literary works. Most of these studies, as one would expect, concentrate on detailed examination of individual translations into one particular language or another. The present book, while likewise dealing with translations of Joyce’s various works, takes a rather different approach, exploring the notion that there are interesting ways in which the entire corpus of Joyce translations can be regarded as a single and coherent object of study. In exploring the particular ways in which such an exercise might be of interest to readers...

  5. Part One: Macrotextual Joyce

    • 1 Polyglot Joyce
      (pp. 19-36)

      We will begin, then, by undertaking a general characterization of the worldwide polyglot Joyce system, in broad outline and from three different but complementary perspectives. First, we will proceedchronologically,charting the year-by-year growth of the multilingual system over just its first few decades - a necessary restriction for reasons of space - as it develops from an initially monolingual English-language system to one that includes at least forty different languages a century later. Second, we will examine the system in terms of its individual constituent languages, looking at which languages have been more actively and less actively represented in...

    • 2 French Joyce
      (pp. 37-48)

      A distinctive feature in the growth of the French Joyce system - unlike all other foreign-language Joyce systems with the limited exception only of Italian - is the degree to which Joyce himself was able to take a hand in shaping it.¹ Joyce arrived in Paris in July 1920 and lived there for almost twenty years, quickly becoming the centre of a loyal and highly supportive band of admirers. Among the most influential of these for Joyce’s early fortunes both in France and abroad were the two booksellers Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, both of whom Joyce met very shortly...

    • 3 German Joyce, Italian Joyce
      (pp. 49-69)

      In this chapter we will turn (in somewhat less detail) to two other major Joyce language systems, namely German Joyce and Italian Joyce, comparing and contrasting each of them in terms of their general configuration to the French Joyce system as outlined above.

      German was the first language into which any Joyce text was translated - even if the immediate result was less than a resounding success.¹Exilesappeared in German in March 1919, only ten months after its first appearance in English, and was first performed in its German translation, Verbannte, more than five years earlier than in its...

    • 4 Other Words, Other Worlds
      (pp. 70-94)

      Rather than continuing to examine in detail other individual Joyce language systems, we will now turn to a more impressionistic series of glimpses at particular aspects of Joyce’s fortunes in eight or ten further languages, European and non-European. We will also glance in a not particularly systematic way at some of the real and indispensable people who so often manage to be completely written out of the picture when works of literature are translated into other languages, namely the translators. For the personalities of individual translators, as we shall see, can play a major role in determining the particular face...

  6. Part Two: Sameness and Difference

    • 5 Negotiating Difference
      (pp. 97-119)

      In the first chapter of Morel’s French Ulysse (1929), Stephen Dedalus asks for a litre of milk rather than a quart, he lends Mulligan quatre sous for a bock rather than twopence for a pint, and Mulligan pays twelvelouisrather than twelve quid for the rent of the Martello tower. We are faced, in short, with some of the innumerable occasions when literary translation emerges very overtly as an act of negotiated settlement: Stephen and Mulligan are indeed still Dubliners in the French translation, but the Dublin they live in is a Dublin likewise translated, a Dublin inhabited by...

    • 6 Titles and Texts
      (pp. 120-136)

      The study of literary titles, even without considering any issues potentially raised by their translation, is a fascinating endeavour in its own right. To repeat a point I have made elsewhere (O’Neill 1994: 124), titles may be referentially descriptive, with the primary emphasis variously on theme (War and Peace), character (Madame Bovary), setting (WutheringHeights), or action (Murder in the Cathedral); they may be self-referentially descriptive (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), intertextually allusive (Ulysses, Finnegans Wake), overtly symbolic (The Trial, Heart ofDarkness), or ostensibly nonsignificant(If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler); or they may be...

  7. Part Three: Transtextual Joyce

    • 7 Dubliners Displaced
      (pp. 139-157)

      Let us now turn to a comparative consideration of the transtextual opening moves and closing strategies ofDubliners.All translations that were available to me at the time of writing are quoted in full for each of the passages concerned so that interested readers may have the opportunity to test my interpretive comments against their own feeling for the respective languages and consequently for the translated texts. Other readers’ reactions may well be quite different from my own, of course: this is entirely to be expected, since we all, as readers, inevitably bring different backgrounds and abilities, linguistic and otherwise,...

    • 8 Ulysses Transfigured
      (pp. 158-177)

      Ulyssesis both a very long and an extraordinarily complex novel. Oceans of critical ink have been spilled in hundreds, perhaps thousands of attempts, and in dozens of languages, to explicate it. This chapter has no such ambitions, only the much more modest aim of repeating the procedure of examining in some detail the opening and closing sentences of Joyce’s text in at least a selected few of its multilingual translations. In the case of both the opening and the closing passages, the exact length of the segment I eventually settled on for analysis is, of course, in one sense...

    • 9 Finnegans Wakes
      (pp. 178-193)

      The central question with regard to a translation ofFinnegans Wakeis whether such a possibility can be envisaged in the first place.¹ Competent authorities have categorically stated that the task is theoretically impossible. Theory and practice do not always go hand in hand, however, and the alleged impossibility of the task has not deterred a number of likewise competent translators from undertaking it -usually to the extent of only a page or two, admittedly, but in a small number of heroic cases (Philippe Lavergne in French, Dieter Stündel in German, for example) encompassing the entire 628-page text. Joyce himself,...

    • 10 Annalivian Plurabilities
      (pp. 194-219)

      A particularly intriguing aspect of comparing translations ofAnna Livia Plurabelleis the fact that Joyce himself was significantly involved in at least two of them – each of which, as we have seen in earlier chapters, now has two different versions. The primary French version is theNouvelle Revue Françaisetranslation published in 1931 (Beckett/Joyce 1931), but the preliminary version of this, prepared by Alfred Péron and Samuel Beckett in 1930 though not published until 1985 (Péron/Beckett 1985), is also available for comparison. The primary Italian version is now agreed to be the translation prepared by Joyce and Nino Frank...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 220-228)

    The concept of a macrotextual Joyce system is based on the fact that, worldwide, readers read not only an English-language James Joyce. They also read an Arabic Jims Juyis, a Hebrew G’iims G’ois, a Russian Dzheims Dzhois, a Japanese Jeimusu Joisu, and - most splendidly Joycean of all -a radically expatriate Chinese Qiao Ai Si. The concept of a transtextual reading of at least parts of this multilingual system is appealing not least because it reflects Joyce’s own increasingly polyglot practice throughout his language-obsessed career as a writer, culminating in the amazing linguistic pyrotechnics ofFinnegans Wake.The concept that...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 229-248)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-292)
  11. Index
    (pp. 293-301)