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High, Low and In-Between – Vilhelm Ekelund and Faïza Guène in Translation
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, French. (KIG)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1332-5467
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Vilhelm Ekelund (1880-1949) was a rare bird in the Swedish literary landscape of the 20th century. After a brilliant and productive career as a poet at the turn of the century, he suddenly abandoned the art of poetry and, for the rest of his life, preferred to express himself in prose. His essays and aphorisms – he was never really tempted by the writing of fiction – became more and more esoteric and opaque as the years passed. Written in a somewhat archaic style, and with antique references and quotations prominently featured, the texts puzzled his contemporaries – and they still have the ability to intrigue the readers of today.

   Faïza Guène (born in 1985) is a young, contemporary French writer, whose literary works to a large extent deal with the intercultural experiences of North African immigrants in French society. Her texts contain many elements of oral language, which is still a rather unusual feature in French literature, and she has been recognized for her ability to reproduce modern street-slang in her prose.

   Both authors are thus well-known for their highly individual and distinctive literary styles. This paper seeks to investigate what happens when the texts are translated into a foreign language and transferred to another cultural context. What occurs when Ekelund’s hermetic – and indeed “highbrow” – aphorisms are translated into French? And what happens when Guène’s street-wise French is transferred to Swedish? The corpus of the study consists of Guène’s first two novels (Kiffe kiffe demain, 2004 and Du rêve pour les oufs, 2006) and their Swedish translations (Kiffe kiffe imorgon, 2006 and Drömmar för dårar, 2008), as well as Ekelund’s aphorisms that were published in a large number of volumes during the first half of the 20th century and the French selection of translations Le moment suprême. Textes choisis et traduits par Benjamin Stassen (1990). The theoretical framework includes works published in the fields of translation studies, stylistics and sociolinguistics (focusing on lexicology in Swedish slang and in French argot).

   The paper is thus cross- or intercultural in more than one respect. Not only are “highbrow” literature and “lowbrow” literature examined, but two languages and two cultural spheres – the Swedish and the French – are also studied and contrasted. One of the conclusions of the study is that the target language texts to some degree are subject to normalization (see, for instance, Baker 1996 or Tegelberg 2001) – or, to use another word, standardization (cf. Toury 1995) – i.e. they are situated somewhere between the (original) “highbrow” style of Ekelund and the (original) “lowbrow” style of Guène.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
University of Yamaguchi (Japan),, 2015.
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Kultur, identitet och gestaltning, Transcultural Identities in Contemporary Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-17238OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-17238DiVA: diva2:799511
Conference
Highbrow versus Lowbrow Literature: Intercultural and Intermedial Perspectives of a Problematic Dichotomy. University of Yamaguchi (Japan), March 26-28, 2015
Available from: 2015-03-31 Created: 2015-03-31 Last updated: 2015-07-20Bibliographically approved

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