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The Many Voices of Lydia DavisTranslation, Rewriting, Intertextuality$
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Jonathan Evans

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474400176

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474400176.001.0001

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Translation as Composition

Translation as Composition

(p.126) Chapter 7 Translation as Composition
The Many Voices of Lydia Davis

Jonathan Evans

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter analyses where Davis uses practices that are like translation in her stories and where Davis uses translation as a narrative focus of her stories. In the first half, Davis’s work is read through the paradigms of collage, quotation and pastiche. Through close readings of stories such as ‘Once A Very Stupid Man’ and ‘Southward Bound, Reads Worstward Ho’, the chapter argues that Davis’s writing problematizes the notion of the unitary text and questions understandings of authorship. As with the stories from Flaubert and her Marie Curie story, the original text is never full incorporated into her work, yet is part of it. The second half of the chapter analyses the stories ‘Foucault and Pencil’ and ‘The Letter’. In the former, a reading of Foucault stands in for understanding an argument with another character; emotion is displaced into intellect. In ‘The Letter’, this process involves the central character trying to decipher the meaning of a poem in French which has been sent as a letter. In all these stories, translation is central to Davis’s narrative production and, at the same time, serves to highlight the connection between translation and writing in her work in general.

Keywords:   Translation, Pastiche, Collage, Quotation, Intertextuality, Rewriting

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