Article

Neohelicon

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 113-125

First online:

Decolonizing paratexts: re-presenting Haitian literature in English translations

  • Carolyn ShreadAffiliated withDepartment of French, Mount Holyoke College Email author 

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Abstract

This article analyses the roles of paratexts in the translations of several Haitian novels as a basis for re-visioning the paratext in my own translation of Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s novel Les Rapaces (1986). I suggest that paratexts often play a colonizing role in relation to the texts they present through the generalized assumption that the purpose of paratexts is to facilitate access to a foreign language and culture. By examining the functioning of paratexts in several previous translations of Haitian literature, I reveal the colonizing effect of conventional paratexts, and begin to imagine a decolonized paratext for The Raptors. I propose that a more critical role for the paratext of a translation is to draw attention to the translated nature of the text, the resistance and opacity of its linguistic and cultural differences, and the process of negotiation, exchange, and travel on which the translation depends. This strategy is in line with a feminist critique of the limited repertoires for relating to difference offered by masculine epistemologies and promotes an activist feminist agenda through literary re-presentation.

Keywords

Paratext Haiti Vieux-Chauvet Post-colonial Feminist