Translation Reading Sex

Turner, Lynn. 2002. Translation Reading Sex. Parallax, 8(4), pp. 57-70. ISSN 13534645 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In the following passages I begin to articulate an eroticization of the text without prescription and without end. This is partly from within the terms of what Alice Jardine once called Jacques Derrida’s ‘pornosophy’. Yet it also breaks with the letter of that pornosophy and comes to find a greater radicality available via Walter Benjamin’s work on translation. Although Benjamin may not immediately spring to mind to ground an emerging politics and poetics of queer sexuality, certainly Gayatri Spivak has named translation as an erotic relation bound to undo the translator’s ‘(selv)edges’. Here, however, I appropriate Benjamin specifically for his uprooting of metaphor as it attempts to root kinship and reproduction in nature rather than language. While Derrida’s work is frequently hospitable to that of Benjamin, ‘Des Tours de Babel’ risks reinscribing the seminal logic that ‘Die Aufgabe des Übersetzers’ arguably displaces. Even though Derrida is, of course, sympathetic to the translation of the site of reproduction from nature to language, my concern is that the hymeneal discourse effecting this turn hampers the style of translation as intercourse. Rather than seek to correct, or to discipline, the translation of ‘The Task of the Translator’, this paper contributes to its afterlife bearing in mind the somewhat divergent readings offered by Derrida, Carol Jacobs, and Paul de Man.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


October 2002Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 15:20

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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