Welgevonden revisited : a new translation of Sewe Dae by die Silbersteins, and its literary-critical rationale

Penfold, Gregory (2013-12)

Thesis (MA)-- Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis re-evaluates the writing of seminal Afrikaans modernist Etienne Leroux from a South African English perspective. The present author's new translation of Leroux's prizewinning novel Sewe Dae by die Silbersteins (1962) is the focal point of an enquiry into how “rewriting”, in translation theorist André Lefevere's coinage, has shaped the reception of Leroux's work outside the Afrikaans literary system. It is shown from a literary-historiographical viewpoint that translation played a crucial role in Leroux's rise to international prominence and subsequent eclipse. It is demonstrated that Leroux's standing within the English literary system rests predominantly on extant translations of his novels, without taking into account the cyclical quality of his fiction, especially the overarching nine-novel cycle – the basis of Leroux's renown in Afrikaans. The distortions produced by this fact are critiqued. In particular, the received idea of Leroux as an apolitical obscurantist is challenged, the work of J.C. Kannemeyer especially showing that Leroux's politics and art were much more integral and radical than previously (mis)understood. A case is made for Leroux's re-evaluation as a seminal contributor to modern South African fiction comparable to J.M. Coetzee, and for the production of fresh translations of his work to facilitate this re-evaluation. A detailed account of the translation process behind the present author's new translation of Sewe Dae by die Silbersteins follows. A series of close readings compares this new translation to the first translation by Charles Eglington (1964), shows how Eglington's translation obscured certain textual strategies vital to a full comprehension of Leroux's text, examines the difficulties inherent in restoring them, and argues for the new translation's success therein. A mise au point in which insights yielded by this process feed back into an assessment of Leroux's relevance today concludes the thesis. Leroux's technique is shown to have immunised his texts against the desuetude into which time-bound “committed” literature often falls. In particular, Sewe Dae by die Silbersteins, or its new translation, emerges as a satirical anatomisation of subjectivity under late modern capitalism entirely in tune with contemporary cultural representations of apartheid as metaphor for global capitalism.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie tesis word die skryfwerk van die hoog-aangeskrewe Afrikaanse modernis Etienne Leroux vanuit 'n Suid-Afrikaans-Engelse oogpunt in heraanskouing geneem. Die kandidaat se nuwe vertaling van Leroux se beroemde roman, Sewe dae by die Silbersteins (1962 ), word as uitgangpunt gebruik vir vrae oor hoe Leroux se werk “herskryf” is deur kritici en vertalers. In verband hiermee word die vertaal-teoris André Lefevere se werk gebruik om die ontvangs van Leroux se werk buite die Afrikaanse literêre-sisteem in oënskou te neem. Uit n literêr-historiografiese standpunt word bewys dat vertaling 'n sleutel-rol in Leroux se internasionale beroemdheid en sy daaropvolgende verdwyning gespeel het. Leroux se status binne die Engelse literêre-stelsel berus tans hoofsaaklik op bestaande vertalings van sy romans, wat beperk in omvang en gehalte is. Leroux se “Engelse” reputasie neem as gevolg hiervan glad nie die sikliese eienskappe van sy fiksie in ag nie, bowenal sy oorkoepelende siklus van nege romans, wat die grondslag van Leroux se roem in Afrikaans vorm. Verskeie misvattings wat uit hierdie toestand voortspruit – veral die gedagte dat Leroux se skryfwerk apolities en “duister” is – word bevraagteken. Vernaamlik die werk van J. C. Kannemeyer wys daarop dat Leroux se kuns baie meer integraal en radikaal is as wat dit blyk binne die wanvoorstelling daarvan in Suid-Afrikaanse kritiek in Engels. ‘n Pleidooi word gemaak vir ‘n herwaardering van Leroux as 'n sentrale figuur in moderne Suid-Afrikaanse fiksie, vergelykbaar selfs met J.M. Coetzee. Verder word gepleit vir die behoefte aan nuwe vertalings van Leroux se werk, om sodoende 'n deeglike herwaardering moontlik te maak. Daarna volg 'n bespreking van die vertalingsproses van die kandidaat se nuwe vertaling van Sewe dae by die Silbersteins. 'n Reeks noukeurige beskouings wat die nuwe vertaling met die bestaande vertaling (Charles Eglington, 1964) vergelyk, wys daarop dat Eglington se vertaling kerneienskappe van Leroux se teks effektief verdoesel. Hierdie eienskappe, word aangevoer, is noodsaaklik vir 'n deeglike begrip van Leroux se teks. Die kandidaat bied ‘n wye analise oor hierdie eienskappe aan en voer ook aan dat sy nuwe vertaling die wese van Leroux se roman in ere herstel. Die tesis sluit af met 'n mise au point waarin die insigte wat bereik is deur die vertalingsproses voorgestel word as stof tot nadenke oor Leroux se belangrikheid in vandag se leefwêreld. Daar word vervolgens ook bewys dat Leroux se werk bestand is teen die onbruik waarin tydgebonde littérature engagée dikwels verval. Veral Sewe dae by die Silbersteins, en die nuwe vertaling wat hier aangebied word, bied 'n satiriese beskouing van subjektiwiteit onder apartheid-kapitalisme wat strook met huidige voorstellings van apartheid as metafoor vir globale kapitalisme.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85646
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