Conceived and started in a hospital bed, where Borges lay convalescing from a home accident that had brought him near death, it was his first major narrative piece. Published in Sur in May , the story was gathered thereafter in the volume Ficciones. It went on to enjoy an astounding influence among literary people, its clever thoughts giving rise to aesthetic theories that went well beyond anything Borges had probably intended. It presents itself as a posthumous literary appreciation of the recently deceased Menard as told by an unnamed and typically snobbish French rightist. The list he gives of Menard's published works shows the dearly departed to have been a narrow, claustrophobic sort whose interests lay chiefly in self-enclosed fields such as chess, metrics, symbolic logic , and the retranslating of translated books back to their originals.
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Equivalence has remained a central problem for Translation Studies from before its scientific era. We may easily ascertain this by quickly glancing at two theoretical testimonies of scholars who have reviewed the various theories of translation: Antony Pym dedicates the first two chapters of his Exploring Translations Theories , pp.
In a similar manner, Edwin Gentzler, in the penultimate chapter of his Contemporary Translation Theories 2nd rev. Speakers—fully conscious subjects, and in full access and control of their mental contents—manipulate linguistic signs, the meaning of which is pre-determined by their relation to external referents external to both signs and subject , and which help them refer to what they see, mentally manipulate what they do not see, and even make up what does not exist.
Natural languages thus gain form and function by allowing a knowing subject to, more than speak of things, know them, while thoroughly and consciously working out their expressive potential in order to control their ambiguities and have them reach zones which their current shape cannot encompass.
The above briefly sketches the theoretical framework problematized by deconstruction. Drawing upon the likes of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin, Foucault, Freud and not unsurprisingly Saussure, and destabilizing concepts such as subject, conscience, knowledge , and language , as well as the relations between signifier and signified, deconstruction promotes reading practices which excavate texts in search of inconsistencies, and expose the illusion of a fully conscious knowing subject, able to reach the original essence or presence , as deconstructionists would have it which is the source of the very possibility of knowledge— illusion which they call logocentrism.
Reflection on translation may assume a potentially disturbing role against such a framework. Contact between languages exposes that which seems to lie between or beyond the grasp of linguistic expression.
The presence of this transcendental meaning vanishes, however, as translation goes from moveable process to final product: when a chain of signifiers is decided upon and fixed into place, not only differences in meaning between original and translation are fixed alongside with the signals taken as equivalents in both languages differences which will persist, despite our best efforts to oust them , but also the very chains remain open to the possibility of further shifts, due to semantic dislocation in the arbitrary and unstable relations between signifier-signified and sign-community.
Deconstruction thinks translation not as a preserver of essences, but as a source of perpetual differentiation. In Translation Studies, Brazilian scholar Rosemary Arrojo remains a most cherished name for fostering deconstruction in her native soil by reflecting on translation. While the first metaphor thinks translation according to its potential for functional or semantic identity and its maintenance— that is, from its capacity to realize the presence of transcendental meaning—, the second emphasizes the dislocation of meaning across signifiers, and consequently the differences sanctioned in our reading, interpreting and translating practices.
One of her favorite targets is the concept of fidelity momentarily, we may safely assume it as a near-synonym for equivalence , which is responsible not only for defining translation in reference to its original, but especially for setting the former as inferior to the latter. As she correctly points out, translators are not faithful to the texts they translate, but to their interpretations thereof, as well as their own personal views of reading and translating , p.
This 0thin a given community, which may be as small as mids Rutherford, New Jersey [p. Its symbolism allusion to sensual pleasure or transgression? Its intertextual value reference to the fruit as opened or veiled reference to fruits previously mentioned in the history of Western Literature? The meaning to be thus translated is that which the translator generates as reader , constructed along the process of making sense of the poem.
Many are related to logic, that is, to the project of developing a universal, immediately intelligible language, in which signifier and signified, on the one hand, and sings and syntax, on the other, relate to one another unambiguously, thus distancing themselves from the obscurities of everyday talk.
Such thinkers endeavor to bring to completion a project in which language can be a direct expression of knowledge; symbolic language would reproduce in its internal relations the factual relations obtaining in the non-linguistic world, being thus free of intelligibility threats posed by the pragmatics of synchronicity and diachronic variation.
Both men are transposing —which word denotes no more than a shift in signifiers. It is, however, no metaphorical approximation to state that Ashe is translating between systems, which act would envisage perfect and full transference of meanings forever fixed in the original source-system. I believe the emphasis is necessary: though it is possible to think of PMAQ as being about the failure of logocentric translation, we must remain aware that this critical gesture is contingent at best or arbitrary at worst.
Arrojo seems quite certain that PMAQ is about translation. I have undertaken the mysterious duty of literally reconstructing his spontaneous work. Arrojo overlooks this passage in her analysis. However, the privileged type of intertextual relation obtaining between original and translation is not the only one possible between any textual pair; also, other elements in the story seem to cancel a strong version of this comparison:.
After that, I have closely reread a few chapters, those I shall not attempt for now. His contact with the Quijote is markedly different from the careful and extensive attention translators literary or not must pay to their original. Arrojo will ponder on the question of why Menard chose the Quijote for his literary enterprise , pp.
This explanation finds further support in his decision not to begin his Quijote by those chapters he read more attentively, and of which he would probably hold better memory. Deconstruction emphasizes difference and creativity in translation; this causes Arrojo to very strongly approximate reading, interpreting and translating , to the point that they become nearly indiscernible. Arrojo is not alone in approximating translation and interpretation : Eco , pp.
He takes pains to prove that both Pierce and Jakobson taking the cue of his tripartite typology of translation from Pierce did not really mean the two concepts should be identified; he claims Pierce uses translation as a synecdoche not as a synonym for interpretation , pp.
Eco agrees that every translation is a mode of interpretation, but believes it is undesirable to equate the two. I would agree with Eco; consequently, I believe that deconstruction, though criticizing logocentrism for devaluing translations as inferior to their originals, promotes a similar devaluing by inflating it to signify nearly every single instance of meaning production. I would like to advance two testimonies of this inadvertent impoverishment. Nicholas Round, when describing metaphors for translation, begins his article by commenting on the reserve practice, that of using translation as a metaphor for other cognitive phenomena.
He questions the relevance of such overall identification:. It reduces any notion of that undertaking to the minimal element which all those others have in common with it. About them it tells us only that one thing; so it cannot tell us much about them either. He is especially concerned with the words translation and interpretation and their respective concepts:.
The unelaborated thesis of translation as interpretation does not convey more than its triteness. But it does not follow from that that we may simply identify what PMAQ terms reading with what Arrojo terms translation. He conceives his writing process as the orchestration of signs in a necessary order verifiable in the finished Quijote , functioning as an answer-key from minimal cues worked out by deductive reasoning; this would arguably undermine the role of meaning in his process: symbolic logic is concerned with syntactic relations between propositions, regardless of their content.
The famous comparison between two identical passages of the Quijote is a critical gesture, and there is more to it than one may see when one takes it too seriously see below, 3. Are we being invited to disbelieve their existence? See below, 3. The second is that, had he done so, his novel would have generated a chain of signifiers absolutely undistinguishable from that of a previously existing novel, and would therefore be utterly unable to bear witness to its own existence as a separate work.
Theirs is the task of stating there is something which is invisible—hence the particular interest of the narrator. I could provide here a counterargument in favor of Arrojo. Arrojo could have benefited from the word incomprehension , and stated that, for Menard, if others do not understand, it is because, for him, the Quijote does have a stable meaning i. Still, Menard seems here to realize that much to his dismay, perhaps the Quijote has, indeed, changed over the centuries; it would be therefore difficult to state that he believed in its immutability.
He recognizes the possibility of interpretive shifts, and may not deem it incompatible with his project. All theorists to whom Menard alludes must have been fully aware of the ambiguities of language use.
There is oversimplifying exaggeration in supposing that Menard would ignore these problems precisely as he tried to overcome them. The theories of language, reading and translation Arrojo dismissingly calls logocentric are not incompatible with a certain degree of instability, and consequently neither would a project based on them. Her workshop cannot but encompass some version of equivalence , as Gentlzer had affirmed of other translation theories.
Deconstruction thus ignores the practical potential and the intuitive strength of the concepts it rejects, and fails to notice that it seems to fundamentally depend on them to be spelled out as a theory. Components of any allegorical piece must bear as precise a relation to those of the allegorized extract from reality as possible; the closer the relation, the stronger the allegorical impact.
Let us expand on this idea. Critics seem to have overlooked the fact that it is not Menard himself who describes his work. PMAQ is also a story about an apparently mediocre literary environment, the members of which exhume the memory of a late minor poet, in order to establish themselves against one another. Humor also seems to play an unrecognized role in the composition of the story. I should like to conclude by demonstrating that the view on PMAQ as being about translation is not universal.
Arrojo, therefore, seems to remain very close to Steiner in her opinion concerning the importance of PMAQ for translation theory. I find at least one important counter-example: in , Anne-Marie Louis published an article on Borges and translation, in which she explicitly cites Steiner and his compliment to PMAQ. It is undeniable that, in truly borgesian fashion, PMAQ is now a story about translation, after having been so abundantly read, but I find it reasonable that we should call the origins of such interpretation into question; it may now be undesirable to disprove it altogether, but I would argue for a less strong, more cautious version thereof.
All translations are mine. Rio de Janeiro: Imago, In: Arrojo, Rosemay org. Campinas: Pontes, In: Diacritics vol. Outono-inverno, Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.
In: Obras completas I: , 5. Translation as interpretation. In: Riccardi, Alessandra ed. Translation Studies: Perspectives on an Emerging Discipline.
Cambridge University Press, ECO, Umberto. Contemporary Translation Theories , 2. Invisible work: Borges and translation. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, La traduction selon Jorge Luis Borges. PYM, Anthony. Exploring Translation Theories. Translation and its Metaphors: the. In: Skase Journal of Translation and Interpretation vol. Oxford University Press, Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo, E-mail: fbnfnds gmail. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Services on Demand Journal. Translation and deconstruction: a brief overview Equivalence has remained a central problem for Translation Studies from before its scientific era.
However, the privileged type of intertextual relation obtaining between original and translation is not the only one possible between any textual pair; also, other elements in the story seem to cancel a strong version of this comparison: 1 First, Menard learns Spanish and writes his Quichotte in Spanish: no language shift, between languages or within a single language, is outlined. He is especially concerned with the words translation and interpretation and their respective concepts: interpreting is any activity aiming at bringing about comprehension, and translating has the same aim, but normally involves a different language in which comprehension is to take place.
In RiccaRdi [ed.
Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote (Pierre Menard, Autor del Quixote) by Jorge Luis Borges, 1944
It originally appeared in Spanish in the Argentine journal Sur in May It begins with a brief introduction and a listing of Menard's work. Borges' "review" describes Menard's efforts to go beyond a mere "translation" of Don Quixote by immersing himself so thoroughly in the work as to be able to actually "re-create" it, line for line, in the original 17th-century Spanish. Thus, Pierre Menard is often used to raise questions and discussion about the nature of authorship , appropriation , and interpretation. Cervantes, the reviewer claims, "indulges in a rather coarse opposition between tales of knighthood and the meager, provincial reality of his country".
Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote Quotes