Loughborough University

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Hey, Babel: translation, transgression, temptation and Salman Rushdie

posted on 2011-02-01, 16:04 authored by Jennifer K. Ramone
This is a new study of Salman Rushdie's fiction, reading his texts through translation theory. Going beyond previous studies of Rushdie's writing, the majority of which have been postcolonial critiques, or have aimed to illuminate obscure references, my study engages with those images which are interesting to postcolonial studies and reads them through their relevance to the theory of translation. Engaging with texts on translation including those by Walter Benjamin, George Steiner, Lawrence Venuti, Andre Lefevere, Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi, as well as other theoretical perspectives (including postcolonial, postmodern, and linguistic theory), my study equally interrogates Rushdie's fiction and related aspects of translation theory. My thesis begins by examining images of the harem and the veil and suggests that these images denote the untranslatable. Further chapters suggest that the figure of the translator is a transgressor, and that transgression is necessary in order to translate. Ideas of linguistic creativity, clumsiness, slang, and bad language in the novels are opposed with the translator's goal of textual perfection. I examine the prophetic angel figure as an example of miscommunication, suggesting the relationship between translation and prophecy. Other disruptions to communication include those caused by the temptations of food, and the madness which Babel causes, and which may be dispelled with the advent of a post-translation, unilingual, utopian future. The final chapter suggests that the short story form (a less studied part of Rushdie's bibliography) provides a solution to problematic translations because of the nature of the narrator's voice in the short story which employs direct communication with the reader.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


© Jennifer Kate Ramone

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University. If you are the author of this thesis and would like to make it openly available in the Institutional Repository please contact: repository@lboro.ac.uk

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  • en