In post 13, when I spoke of Blanchot and translation as a step outside time, I briefly mentioned UK critic and Galician literary scholar Kirsty Hooper. Her landmark book Writing Galicia into the Worldis also a step outside time, one important to translation in a critical sense and in a wider optic. Its mission is other, but it opens up the stakes of translation itself, in a way that is co-incident with, and that has learned from, ideas of writers such as Édouard Glissant and Gilles Deleuze. Her work allows us to look anew at what it means to cross the borders of language, and better understand literature’s role in this crossing.
To tweak from the press website, the book’s “key theoretical contribution is to model a relational approach to a nation’s cultural history, which allows us to reframe a culture often dismissed as peripheral or minor as an active participant in a network of relation that connects local, national and global.”
The exciting thing is that it opens many possibilities to future investigators, and not just to those who study Galician culture (though, please, folks, do study Galician culture!). Hooper’s work is also co-incident and co-intuitive with ideas such as Anne-Marie Losonczy’s “cosavoir,” or “co-knowledge,” a current influence on the production of Quebec poet Chantal Neveu and others.
That’s Maurice Blanchot, from the start of his Le pas au-delà, translated by Lycette Nelson as The Step Not Beyondtwenty years after its French appearance, in a strange bit of torquery that at times infects English, for the title would be more literally translated as The Step Beyond/The Not-Beyond. At first sight. Lycette Nelson, in her introduction, was well aware of the problem of the sound wave and its oscillation. For, with “pas” being “step” and negation, the second particle of negation placed “au-delà”, on the far side of, the verb (the first particle, the “ne”, is found in French on the near side of the verb, rubbing up against the subject), I understand her desire to insert a “Not” in the title beside “Step”. But the dual meanings, in Blanchot, work in self-obliterating oscillation, and do not cohabit shared space-time. The Step into the dark, the no-life-after-death.Deepstep Come Shining, as CD Wright might have titled it.
Except, in all these cases we lose the sonority of Blanchot’s title, its playful sound, which could be rendered perhaps as The Pim Pam Man. In French, the sonority and repetition, the clipped syllables, however unrelated they are to meaning, inevitably infect the meaning, and point us to the absurdity of the title, to its instability. Out of Step Way Out.
In Spanish, Cristina de Peretti translated the title as El Paso (no) más allá. Following her example, could we say The Step (Not) Beyond? But this destabilizes too far; the grasp the reader in French has on the words and alternation of meanings is now far too lost in graphisms.