ÉCRIRE la réalité

17 novembre 202211h00-12h30

The translator’s autonomy in relation to the horizon of the translator : analyzing Selected poems of Su Tung-p’o translated by Burton Watson

Wei Zeng (University of Alberta)

Published by Copper Canyon Press in 1993, Selected poems of Su Tung-p’o made Burton Watson the recipient of the PEN Translation Prize in 1995, which not only accumulated considerable symbolic capital for the translator but also boosted the status of Su Tung-p’o as counter-canon within the American conception of world literature. By adopting the terminology “the horizon of the translator,” a core concept in Antoine Berman’s model of Translation Criticism, this article investigates various parameters that contribute to Watson’s decision of producing a rhymeless translation. This investigation follows a double track of textual and paratextual analysis by relying heavily on footnotes and Introduction in Selected poems of Su Tung-p’o, and primary resources such as interviews, and his anthologies about Chinese poetry. The aforementioned resources help to reveal his knowledge of Chinese poetry and contemporary American poetry, and most importantly, the broad historical situation in the US in terms of poetry and poetry translation of the day. This paper will contribute to translation criticism as it offers a new approach to evaluate Watson’s translation as an autonomous text by identifying the causes behind his translation instead of constructing the criticism in a purely negative or positive direction. It also sheds light on the agency of Burton Watson as a translator.


Investigator, victim, killer : thresholds of gender equality in Nordic noir

Jeanne Marie McGill (Indiana University Bloomington)

Known as Nordic noir, crime fiction from the Nordic countries was already becoming popular when Stieg Larsson’s Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women, English title The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) became a blockbuster. However, the Nordic region is also famous as the place where women have achieved something close to equality in real life (Global Gender Gap Index, World Economic Forum, 2020). In her 2005 analysis of Nordic gender equality in politics, Nina Raaum uses the four thresholds of legitimization, incorporation, representation, and executive power that Rokkan (1970, 1987) identified in his examination of the political mobilization of male workers/peasants in Western Europe to evaluate when women achieved them.

Raaum’s threshold analysis demonstrating real political achievements is here applied to the fictional world of Nordic noir by examining gender equality over time in four winners of the Glass Key award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel, Henning Mankell’s Mördare utan ansikte (Faceless Killers), the first winner in 1992, Karin Fossum’s Se dig ikke tilbake! (Don’t Look Back) in 1997, the aforementioned Män Som Hatar Kvinnor in 2006, and Camilla Grebe’s Husdjuret (English title After She’s Gone) in 2018. Who are the protagonists and the victims? Who investigates and who are the killers? What can fiction reveal about real gender roles in the Nordic countries?

These representative novels show the reality of increasing gender parity in family and professional life in Scandinavian culture over the last thirty years; however, they also reveal the threat of violence women still live with, where “equality” means letting women investigate their own victimhood. As long as men can threaten domestic or sexual violence with no real consequences while being protected by the system, true equality cannot be achieved, in fiction or reality.


Les métaphores de la couleur et leur valeur symbolique chez Jacques Prévert

Olga Kulagina (Université pédagogique d’État de Moscou)

Dans ma communication, je me donne pour but de dégager et d’analyser les métaphores de la couleur et leur rôle dans les poèmes de Jacques Prévert (1900-1977), célèbre poète, scénariste, artiste français. En effet, les couleurs ont une valeur toute particulière dans les écrits prévertiens et se voient souvent attribuer des connotations spécifiques allant au-delà de la symbolique traditionnelle qu’ils revêtent dans la culture occidentale. Ainsi, on rencontre chez Prévert le bleu chantant, le blanc couleur de l’hypocrisie et de la mort, le noir symbole de la vie, le jaune associé avec la violence et d’autres couleurs dotées de significations spécifiques qui mériteraient d’être étudiées afin de mieux comprendre la manière prévertienne de dépeindre la réalité.

Je commencerai par une brève présentation du credo littéraire et philosophique de l’auteur pour procéder ensuite à une étude détaillée des textes que j’ai sélectionnés à partir des recueils suivants :Choses et autres (1972), Fatras (1966), Grand Bal du Printemps (1951), Histoires et d’autres histoires (1946), La cinquième saison (1984), La pluie et le beau temps (1955), Paroles (1946) et Soleil de nuit (1980). C’est l’analyse stylistique des moyens langagiers utilisés par l’auteur, ainsi que celle des connotations culturelles (c’est-à-dire des sens sous-entendus porteurs d’associations culturelles) que je privilégierai en tant que méthode essentielle de ma recherche et qui me permettra de définir les significations nouvelles traduites par les métaphores de la couleur dans l’oeuvre de Prévert, de même que les éléments de la valeur symbolique traditionnelle que gardent les couleurs dans les textes en question.


Our shared violent world : Reznikoff’s use of pronouns in Testimony

Étienne Garnier (Université d’Angers)

He was at work with others between decks
when the fire broke out and hurried to his maul and coat.

he was found dead
near the foot of the ladder
with his coat wrapped about his head (Reznikoff, 242-243).

In writing his collection of poetry Testimony, « Reznikoff parvient à ébranler une dernière dualité érigée par la tradition, celle qui juxtapose la prose à la poésie » (McMahon, 133). However, beyond this blurring of the boundaries between prose and verse, Charles Reznikoff also undermined the separation between fiction and reality. This collection is based on the reading and rewriting of court reports. In this long catalog of dreadful accidents or petty crimes, Reznikoff sketches a violent and desperate portrait of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century.

The use of this type of documents raises numerous questions, whether they be legal or ethical. To resolve them, Reznikoff hid his sources by changing the names of his protagonists but also, more significantly, by using pronouns. However, this solution, in turn, raises another set of questions, literary and linguistic this time. If this device can be studied at the microscopic level of the single poem, it also reveals another set of interrogations when considered at the macroscopic level of the entire book.

In the words of Jespersen, pronouns are shifters, indexical tools, entirely dependent on contextual information, “class of words”, as he calls them, “whose meaning differs according to the situation” (Jespersen, 123). In this light, pronouns are contextual tools, Reznikoff’s use, however, tends to give them another dimension, moving from a « réalité de discours » (Benveniste, 252) to a description of reality proper. Reznikoff’s use of pronouns would be a way to elevate the cases from the “particulars” (Zukofsky) to the general, making him move from a specific situation to a universal shared suffering, towards a depiction of a bleak and dark human condition.


  • Benveniste, Emile. Problèmes de linguistique générale. Gallimard, 1979. Print.
  • Jespersen, Otto. Language, its nature, development and origin. George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1954. Print.
  • McMahon, Fiona. Charles Reznikoff, une poétique du témoignage. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2011. Print.
  • Reznikoff, Charles. Testimony: the United States (1885-1915): recitative. Boston: Black Sparrow book, 2015. Print.
  • Zukofsky, Louis. “Program: ‘Objectivists’ 1931”. Poetry 37.5 (1931): 268–272. Web. 3 Nov. 2020.


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