Intertexuality and translation in three recent French Holocaust novels

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Abstract

This essay highlights the role translation plays in constructing Holocaust memory in fiction. Considering for example references to the work of Primo Levi in French texts, it shows how recent Holocaust novels have recourse to intertexts originally written in another language in order to evoke shared knowledge about the Holocaust. The translation of Holocaust novels therefore poses the problem of translating an intertext that is itself a translation. Analysis of recent novels by Fabrice Humbert, Boualem Sansal, and Sylvie Germain suggests that such translated intertextuality can produce complex and unpredictable reinterpretations. The essay argues that translation and multilingualism are rhetorical strategies used in Holocaust fiction to approach complex questions of identity and unrepresentability.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-196
Number of pages12
JournalTranslation and Literature
Volume23
Issue number2
Early online dateMay 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Intertextuality, Holocaust novel, multilingualism, Primo Levi, Fabrice Humbert, Boualem Sansal, Sylvie Germain