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Title: Tropes of translation and conceptions of the subject in the work of the Oulipo
Author: Duncan, Dennis
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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The subject of translation is one which appears with striking frequency in the work of the Parisian literary coterie, the Oulipo. As a cosmopolitan group, it is perhaps unsurprising that members should translate one another's work for their native markets, but more than that we find that variant forms such as homophonic translation underlie a considerable portion of the group's output. Translation, as Harry Mathews puts it, is '[ a] principle central to Oulipian research' . This thesis will argue that the preoccupation with translation goes beyond its practice in various Oulipian modes, and that writers such as Mathews and Georges Perec use translation as a theme in their fiction. Here it appears in a number of recurrent tropes, for example, the South Seas ethnographer who uncovers a new language of paradigmatic oddity, or the found document purporting to be a translation but whose original is non-existent. In these cases, translation is used to trace the boundary between interpretation and over interpretation: the extent to which the psychological subject can be present in language, and the point at which it becomes unreasonable, or paranoiac, to discern anything other than the contours of language itself. I shall further argue that this distinction, between language itself and the author subject, characterises a shift in focus between two cohorts of the Oulipo - between its founding members and its second wave - which reflects the wider intellectual context in which the group is situated. In this respect, this thesis aims to demonstrate a certain amount of the historical nuance frequently missing from critical writing on the Oulipo in which there has been a tendency to look for general principles in spite of the longevity of the group and the diversity of its membership.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available