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Institute of Modern Languages Research


Reading creates imaginary worlds. Rather than merely contemplating this world, we establish links between the fictional world and the environment we live in. At the same time, the books we read form part of our daily lives, and contribute to the creation of a universe of possible worlds we inhabit. Taking Possible World Theory as a starting point, DeWald re-evaluates and overturns the assumed hierarchical relationship between original text and its translation. Focusing on the translations of Virginia Woolf and Franz Kafka by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, the author considers why we insist on maintaining borders between texts. DeWald examines marginal cases of translations and originals (pseudo-translations and collaborative translations) to determine what is meant by ‘original’ and ‘translation’, and whether the (often gendered) translator becomes an author in her own right, responsible for further possible worlds.

Rebecca DeWald holds a PhD in Translation Studies from the University of Glasgow. She works as a bilingual translator, is co-editor of the Glasgow Review of Books, and literature programme producer at Scotland's international artist residency centre Cove Park.

Table of contents


Abbreviations and Textual Notes

Introduction: The Universe as a Library of Translated Worlds

1. Myths of Margins and Pseudo-Truths: What Is a Translation?

2. Many Possible Worlds of Originals and Translations

3. The Pitfalls of Authenticity: Collaborative Authors and Self-Translators

4. Orlando in Argentina: Who is Reading My Translation?

5. The Double Standard of Fidelity: The Malaise of A Room of One’s Own

6. Expressionist Transformations and the Laws of Perfection: Borges Translates Kafka

7. Putting the (Textual) World in Order

Conclusion: Translation Means Change