Dragomans Gaining Footing: Translators as Usurpers in Two Stories by Rodolfo Walsh and Moacyr Scliar

Marko Julio Miletich


Abstract: Fictional texts focusing on translators and translation have proliferated in world literature during the last fifty years. Thanks to the recent and commonly named “fictional turn” in Translation Studies, fictional translators have been studied and analyzed much more and made ever more visible. This visibility serves to consider translators not as mere interlingual photocopiers but as social beings that operate in particular sociocultural contexts. Two stories from Latin America, “Notas al pie” (Footnotes) by Rodolfo Walsh (1967) and “Notas ao pé da página” (Footnotes) by Moacyr Scliar (1995), introduce translators who are uncomfortable with having to occupy a second-rate space. The fictional translators’ footnotes utilize whole pages (effectively taking over in each of the stories) and usurp a space that is conventionally assigned only to writers/authors of a text. The translators in these stories have found a way to use these explanatory comments to their advantage. Since footnotes are often not well-received by many readers, who consider them temporary interruptions and/or a nuisance, they are usually kept to a minimum. Our fictional translators, however, increase the size and number of footnotes dramatically. The clear-cut hierarchical relationships between writer/author and translator are reversed in these stories to unveil the struggle for power that exists between the figures of author and translator. Both stories can also serve as pedagogical tools to discuss the exciting world of Translation Studies.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21071/hikma.v17i0.11164

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