Comparability and translatability in the making of historical narratives: Alba de Céspedes’ comparative method

Segnini, E. (2023) Comparability and translatability in the making of historical narratives: Alba de Céspedes’ comparative method. Comparative Critical Studies, 20(2-3), pp. 319-345. (doi: 10.3366/ccs.2023.0485)

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This article examines the comparative method used by Italian writer Alba de Céspedes in relation to questions of translatability, and in connection to the role of censorship in the production of historical narratives. It draws on two case studies: an article written on the Cuban Revolution for the magazine Epoca in 1959, and a series of poems portraying the Parisian May 1968, and it examines the history of translation of these poems in the Italian and Cuban contexts. Two types of comparisons emerge from the analysis of these texts: ‘vertical comparisons’, that is, comparisons that establish a relation between events positioned at different historical times, and ‘horizontal comparisons’, which connect contemporary, geographically distant events. While horizontal comparisons are necessarily transnational, vertical comparison can involve comparanda based within or beyond the nation. In de Céspedes’ works, transnational comparisons issue a desire for translation, but at the same time prevent the translation from taking place, due, in part, to the contentious relationship between comparison and censorship evoked by the text in the target context. In fact, it is precisely the hyper-comparability of the poems themselves that limits their circulation in translation. In turn, untranslatability makes such texts significant for the comparatist precisely because it prompts a reflection on the socio-political factors that limit comparability.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Segnini, Dr Elisa
Authors: Segnini, E.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Italian
Journal Name:Comparative Critical Studies
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):1750-0109
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 British Comparative Literature Association
First Published:First published in Comparative Critical Studies 20(2-3): 319-345
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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