, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 7–19 | Cite as

Alien autographs: how translators make their marks



Like other forms of treachery, translation can be either concealed or exposed. Though most literary translators work in the dark and some embrace invisibility as an ideal, all translations can be situated along the continuum of illusionist-anti-illusionist or domesticating-foreignizing. A variety of paratexts lay bare the devices of translation. The zero degree of translational invisibility occurs in utilitarian prose that is designed simply to convey information. But the minimal way for a book to make translation visible is to identify the name of the translator, on the title page if not on the cover and spine. A long tradition of translator’s prefaces further undercuts the illusion of unmediated contact with a pure, primal text. So, too, do the memoirs of translators. Second-degree translations can both display and conceal the derivative nature of the final text. If there are reasons—such as vanity or commerce—to disguise a text’s origins in translation, there are also reasons for pseudo-translations, texts that falsely claim to be translations. More than just an appendix to an Englishing of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Keats’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” is a poet’s tribute to the power of translation.


Translation Paratext Invisibility Pseudo-translation Second-degree translation Illusionist Vladimir Nabokov John Keats 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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