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Friday, April 15, 2016

Punct-u-fucking-ation

1.

“‘What does it matter who is speaking,’ someone said, ‘what does it matter who is speaking.’”

2.

"What matter who's speaking, someone said what matter who's speaking."

Yes, it matters. Look at the difference between 1, the way Beckett is quoted in the translation of Foucault's essay "What is an author?" and (2) the punctuation as this sentence in Beckett's Stories and Texts for Nothing. The translation of Foucault rationalizes Beckett, by adding quotation marks and a comma. It also destroys the characteristic Beckett phraseology: what matter. Of course, he wrote it originally in French: "Qu'importe qui parle, quelqu'un a dit qu'importe qui parle." But of course the translation into English is Beckett's own.

This rationalizing translation undermines the connection between Foucault and the avant-garde literature of his own day. Well, his lecture was given in 1969, and Beckett started to write these texts in 1950, publishing them around mid-decade. They weren't super recent, but it takes a while for literary theory to catch up with creation.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Specifically, the blurring between the voices occurs with an absence of quotation marks.