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'Speaking in the Feminine':
Contents:


  1. Confessing for Voyeurs;The Age of The Literary Memoir Is Now
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  3. Speaking in the Feminine
  4. Confessing for Voyeurs;The Age of The Literary Memoir Is Now

IV, fall Magazine, spring , p. Paul Minn. Office, Washington D. Hanadi Al-Samman ha2b virginia. Griffith Chaussee gc4n virginia. Richard Cohen rjc8s virginia. Tessa Farmer trf6k virginia. Mehr Farooqi maf5y virginia. Zvi Gilboa zg7s virginia. Nizar F.

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Confessing for Voyeurs;The Age of The Literary Memoir Is Now

Hermes nfh5x virginia. Robert Hueckstedt rah2k virginia. Bilal Humeidan bah7n virginia. Daniel Lefkowitz dl2h virginia. Bilal Maanaki bam6h virginia. Farzaneh Milani fmm2z virginia. So is mental illness. Our belief in the recuperative powers of letting it all hang out has never been stronger. The triumph of the therapeutic predicted by the sociologist Philip Rieff a generation ago is a reality.

Yet this urgency to get at the facts -- or what are presumed to be the facts -- has a long tradition; it reflects our historic American longing to discover who we are. The literature of the self has a long tradition in America; the Emersonian "I," declaring the primacy of subjective consciousness, was a vigorous 19th-century theme, nowhere more pronounced than in Whitman's "Song of Myself.

Our hunger for authenticity found expression in stories that were realistic but fictional. Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson, Fitzgerald and Dos Passos worked close to the vein of autobiography, drawing on the material of their own lives.


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The history of American literature is a history of private experience enacted on a public stage. Can the novel still claim this primacy? Can it compete with TV, with the lure of our wondrous new computer technology, with the sheer pace of contemporary life? The fact is -- and it has been widely documented -- we do still read. More than ever, in our diverse and volatile society, literary narratives offer a substitute for the institutions -- school, church, family -- that once furnished us with a sense of personal identity.

They want to read about someone's life and say, This is how it was. This really happened. The novelist writes disguised autobiography; the memoirist cuts to the chase.


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  8. It could be the memoirist's credo. View all New York Times newsletters. The habit of self-examination can grow tiresome. That a book purports to be a true confession doesn't mean it's good -- or, for that matter, true. As Janet Malcolm has noted with her characteristic tartness: "The subject of an autobiography is no less at the mercy of the writer than the subject of a biography. William Gass, in a recent Harper's essay, "The Art of Self: Autobiography in an Age of Narcissism," loudly objected that literature was being taken over by a bunch of narcissists: "Look, Ma, I'm breathing.

    See me take my initial toddle, use the potty, scratch my sister, win spin the bottle. Gee whiz, my first adultery -- what a guy! Point taken.

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    But try reading Gass's bloated novel about a closet Nazi, "The Tunnel," on which he labored for three decades. Fiction isn't delivering the news. Memoir is. At its best, in the hands of a writer able to command the tools of the novelist -- character, scene, plot -- the memoir can achieve unmatchable depth and resonance. Tending her postage stamp of reality, as Faulkner advised, Mary Karr conjures the simmering heat and bottled rage of life in a small Texas oil town with an intensity that gains power from its verisimilitude -- from the fact that it's fact.

    Contemporary memoir comes in many forms; it's as various as the stories its practitioners relate.

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    From edgy post-modern memoirs like "Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story," by Mark Matousek, a harrowing account of his philandering mother, deadbeat dad and suicidal sister, to "Being Brett," Douglas Hobbie's devastating journal of his daughter's death, written in the third person as if no I could bear it , the genre eludes precise literary definition. Some memoirs are written as history, replete with documents and genealogies; others are terse, impressionistic catalogues of moments in a life.

    Thus, both linguistically and socio-politically, Quebec nationals could be seen in an effort to create a culture of their own, reflecting the country's own development rather than external influences. The parallel spread of interest in translation studies as a result of the cultural turn led to awareness of the importance of translation as a cultural product, with North American interest in this field developing in a particularly propitious climate of bilingualism and the quest for identity.

    Francoeur was the first and last male poet I translated. During the three years I spent on his poetry, I realized with much distress that my translating voice was being distorted into speaking in the masculine. Forced by the poem's stance, by language, by my profession, to play the role of male voyeur.

    As if the only speaking place available, and the only audience possible were male-bodied. I became very depressed around meaning'. Following a brief definition of the notion of gender, examples of paradigms ruling current work in Anglo-American translation studies will be given. The content of the poems will be examined in relation to the possibility of a sexist stance, thus leading to the impression of 'speaking in the masculine'. Correspondingly, women's relationship to language will also be discussed and subsequently, the visibility of women in translation will be examined in order to illustrate methods which gender conscious feminist translators may adopt to find an ideologically suitable 'speaking place' and audience.

    Speaking in the Feminine

    Implications of this activity will be discussed as well as criticisms encountered. In order to fully discuss the relationship of gender-sensitive language with translation, it may first be considered necessary to define the notion of gender and its importance in the context of translated texts. With the rise of the feminist movement, the notion of gender evolved, extending upon the simple definition limited to biological sexual difference von Flotow, 5. The notion of gender developed into a phenomena of acculturation von Flotow, consisting of the process of conditioning girls or boys into becoming women or men by adopting socio-culturally acceptable attributes and behaviour according to the contemporary requisites of a given society.

    This may be seen to echo the idea expressed by de Beauvoir that 'one is not born, but rather becomes a woman' translation: Parshley, 2. However, a second definition of gender can clearly be seen as necessary, the strictly feminist view of gender concerning women and their subordination in a patriarchal society seeming too restrictive as 'gender definitions are neither universal nor absolute manifestations of inherent differences but relatively local, constantly changing constructions' Maier, Massardier-Kennedy Definitions are thus subject to various influences, notably sexual orientation and the increase in awareness of gay and lesbian interests.

    The notion of gender in Western society may thus be seen to include considerations of sexual preference. Two paradigms for gender-related work prominent in current translation studies have been identified by von Flotow , corresponding to both aforementioned notions of gender. The first subscribes to 'ideas that derived from feminist theory and practice and thus focus[es] on women as a special, minority group that has a particular history within 'patriarchal' society' von Flotow, This paradigm may also be seen to question the 'patriarchal' element of translation by seeking new associations and identities in translation through, for example, 'camp talk' Harvey, , enlarging conventional boundaries of gender as 'man or woman'.

    Confessing for Voyeurs;The Age of The Literary Memoir Is Now

    The notion of gender may thus be determined by individual preferences and convictions as well as different socio-cultural factors. With such varied positions, the translator, as well as the reader, may be confronted with a source text containing an aspect of ideology which raises feeling of aversion.

    These texts could be described as being ideologically antipathetic, and may be seen to imply a certain decision-making process. When faced with ideologically antipathetic or antagonistic texts, the woman translator may feel it problematic finding a suitable translation strategy to render the tone of the ST whilst being morally acceptable from a gendered point of view. This way of adhering to ideological values and preserving female identity through a rejection of androcentric texts has been questioned by Carole Maier who has stated that a translator should 'give voice, to make available texts that raise difficult questions and open perspectives' Maier 4 , thus supporting the translation of both antagonistic and acceptable works.

    The example quoted by Maier to demonstrate this notion is that of her translation of the poetry written by the Cuban poet Octavio Armand. In this poetry, women are overshadowed by male dominance, characters such as the mother figure being referred to in an anonymous way, without the use of her name. Maier claims this has made her a 'stronger and more antagonistic reader and translator' Maier , able to personally confront the text in a more engaged way. The strategy chosen by Maier consisted largely of openly discussing her sentiments concerning the male dominance of the text with the translated text containing few examples of feminist interventionist methods as defined by von Flotow However, characters such as the mother, 'robbed of her voice' Maier, in the original text have been reinstated.

    This strategy may be seen to be consistent with the parallel assertion made by Kolodny in relation to the translation of women authors that,. This may be applied to the case of Maier's translation of Armand's poetry where the presence of female characters, felt by the translator to be both significant and relevant, may thus be seen to be reinforced. Representative examples of the content of the poetry can be seen in lines such as the following excerpt from the poem 'Wonderwoman':.

    The whole poem may also be seen as being directed towards a 'male-bodied' audience, the scathing and demising attitude towards women being a possible reason for becoming 'depressed around meaning'. Other images also refer negatively to women who are often explicitly portrayed as sexual objects in a male-dominated world of rock and drugs.

    It may be claimed that the rise of feminism has increased awareness of the influence of male-dominated language in society and in texts. Before discussing interventionist feminist strategies in translation, it may be interesting to first briefly examine women's relation to language and developments that have been made. In addition to what has been considered as a relative absence or the negative portrayal of women in androcentric texts, attention has been brought to the language used in society and literature as not only a communicative but also a manipulative tool von Flotow, It has been recognised in the field of sociolinguistics that gender-marked differences occur in speech patterns and communicational situations and various explanations for this phenomena have been proposed Wardhaugh, It has also been suggested that the different acculturation processes between genders lead to the devaluation of women's expression and thus the existence of male-dominated speech Tannen, 9.

    Male-dominated speech may be considered as patriarchal language, defined as 'the language forged and used by the institutions in society largely ruled by men' von Flotow, 8. This conventional model has long been recognised by many to be dominant. Relevance may still be felt in the statement expressed over a century ago by Thomas Hardy that 'it is hard for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs'.

    The rise of North American feminism led to two considerations of language in relation to women, namely the reformist and the radical approach von Flotow, 8.

    The former attitude viewed patriarchal language as being reformable and led to the introduction, for example, of non-sexist and gender-free designations in areas such as job descriptions. A radical approach, however, considered language to be an important cause of women's oppression and led to the notion that 'since language determines reality, women may be alienated not only from language but also from the female experience it fails to encode' Cameron, 93 , thus implying the need to create a new female-orientated language to express women's experiences.

    One reaction to the notion of patriarchal language was the growth in numbers and influence of experimental feminist writings combined with public lectures and readings of such work by the authors with translation playing an important role in the propagation of such work the Canadian climate being propitious to the transmission of feminist intervention. Feminist writers also took political stances to language, Quebec becoming the first French-speaking area where women feminized their language as Lise Gauvin points out stating that women:. They have called themselves authers, proud of the so-called silent e and ready to confront the conceited reactions these new tones would provoke.

    Such 'authers', believing that patriarchal language was one of the causes of women's oppression, sought to create a new form of language that women could identify with and thus evolve outside the male-dominated society experienced up until this time. Writers such as Nicole Brossard combined radical feminist literary and linguistic experimentation to produce works which portrayed the world from a woman's stance, for a gender sensitive audience. With such developments in one given linguistic community, adequate translation strategy could be seen as necessary in order to transmit this rejection of patriarchal language to all members of an intercultural, bilingual environment such as Canada.