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Broken Glass or Broken Text?: The Translatability of Alain Mabanckou’s Verre Cassé (2005) into English
Research in African Literatures (2014)
  • Vivan Steemers, Western Michigan University
Abstract
Verre Cassé, Alain Mabanckou’s fifth novel, awarded several “Franco-French” literary prizes, launched the author’s breakthrough as a “francophone”/French writer. This essay opens with a description of Mabanckou’s ascension to the global pantheon of postcolonial writers, as Verre Cassé was included among the 3% of all literature translated into English. A primary challenge for Helen Stevenson, the translator of the novel, were the approximately three hundred predominantly literary references that were incorporated in the source text. Approximately half of these intertexts from African, French, and world literature are lost in the translation. Referring to the two different regimes of reading as described by Roland Barthes in The Pleasure of the Text, this essay analyzes the causes and consequences of the loss of the references in the translation. To what extent are the pleasure of the reading as well as the understanding of the author’s message affected by these losses?
Keywords
  • Translation/Translation Theory/ Francophone Sub-Saharan Literatures/ Mabanckou
Publication Date
2014
Citation Information
Vivan Steemers. "Broken Glass or Broken Text?: The Translatability of Alain Mabanckou’s Verre Cassé (2005) into English" Research in African Literatures Vol. 45 Iss. 1 (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/vivan_steemers/3/