14 September 2009

Daniel Gagnon

Sherry Simon, in “Translating and Interlingual Creation in the Contact Zone: Border Writing in Quebec” (in Post-Colonial Translation: Theory and Practice, edited by Susan Bassnett, 1999), writes about Daniel Gagnon:

“Daniel Gagnon’s short, lyrical texts are idiosyncratic and difficult to categorize. Gagnon writes on the frontier between languages, producing double versions of texts which are written in a hybrid idiom, ‘my so bad English.’” (p. 61)

It is in the French text, however, where hybridity or interlinguality appears more obvious. Continues Simon: “La Fille à marier cannot be separated from The Marriageable Daughter, a translation done by Gagnon himself and published in 1989. The first text to be published was the French version; the English text is presented as a translation of that book. But Gagnon himself has said that in fact he wrote the English text first. And there are many clues in the text which confirm this, associations of words and images which manifestly make more sense in English than in French.” (p. 68)

Here is fertile ground for a Wikcritic competent in French and English, as Simon is. But it is not only trying to figure out which came first that should be of interest, but how the English actually enriches the French (and vice-versa).

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