The Seventh Child
book, performance, 2018
[ part of master diploma done at the Academy of Art in Stettin; thesis advisor: prof. Zbigniew Taszycki ]
The project includes the translation of Georges Perec's La Disparition and the text that was based on the translation.
The translation was done without advance knowledge of the French language. Out of over 300 pages of the original text, 50 pages worth of translation were made.
La Disparition was written without the use of the letter e, which in the French language is the most common. For that reason, to this day, the book poses a great challenge for translators all over the world.
La Disparition is also a good starting point for the discussion on language itself and the limits of translation. Perec's book was translated into English and Spanish. However, the question arises:
is fully conveying the meaning of this work in a language other than French even possible? It may seem, that if we answer this question with negation, we deny ourselves reading the story. It is, however, worth remembering that Perec was very critical towards literature and he encouraged such an attitude in his readers. Contemporary writer Eric Beck Rubin declared that The only way to approach Perec is to move away from him. The farther you go, the closer you get.
And so, the language barrier may turn out to be one of the best tools the readers have at their disposal.
Keeping to this belief, I decided to translate La Disparition, even though I only have a very basic knowledge of the French language. This is yet another limitation that, in a way, was forced on the reader by the author himself.
The translated text resembles a dream. It is chaotic and does not always make sense. At the same time, however, it is incredibly emotional. It can leave the reader feeling lost.
The holes in the text - result of insufficient knowledge of the French language - go well together with the book's title.
The meticulously constructed text was deconstructed.
This deconstruction, however, was not accidental. It was based on the strategies used by the author himself, as well as on the constructivist language theory, according to which every communique is also the instruction to how to read it - this concept can be easily applied to Perec's works.
The next step after making the translation was to take a stance on Perec's work and creating a sort of answer to what I managed to understand - or to what I think I managed to understand.
I decided one more time to take from strategies used by writers dealing with experimental literature. This time my point of reference was A man asleep (also by Georges Perec), which is build from sentences taken from other publications.