Literary Reciprocity in Contemporary Latin America
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
Cannibal translators digest, recombine, transform, and trouble their source materials. Isabel C. Gómez makes the case for this model of literary production by excavating a network of translation projects in Latin America that includes canonical writers of the twentieth century, such as Haroldo and Augusto de Campos, Rosario Castellanos, Clarice Lispector, José Emilio Pacheco, Octavio Paz, and Ángel Rama. Building on the avant-garde reclaiming of cannibalism as an Indigenous practice meant to honorably incorporate the other into the self, these authors took up Brazilian theories of translation in Spanish to fashion a distinctly Latin American literary exchange, one that rejected normative and Anglocentric approaches to translation and developed collaborative techniques to bring about a new understanding of world literature.
By shedding new light on the political and aesthetic pathways of translation movements beyond the Global North, Gómez offers an alternative conception of the theoretical and ethical challenges posed by this artistic practice. Cannibal Translation: Literary Reciprocity in Contemporary Latin America mobilizes a capacious archive of personal letters, publishers’ records, newspapers, and new media to illuminate inventive strategies of collectivity and process, such as untranslation, transcreation, intersectional autobiographical translation, and transpeaking. The book invites readers to find fresh meaning in other translational histories and question the practices that mediate literary circulation.
List of Illustrations
Thirteen Theses on Cannibal Translation
Chapter 1: Unrequited Gifts and Perilous Translations
Chapter 2: Belated Encounters between Latin American Translators
Chapter 3: Intersectional Translation, Gendered Authority, and Biographical Positionality
Chapter 4: Translingual Editing for a Latin American Canon at Biblioteca Ayacucho
Chapter 5: Approximation, Untranslation, and World Literature as Heteronym
Conclusion: Cannibal Translation Futures
“Gómez’s hugely erudite, multidisciplinary study of translation in Latin America—which finds theoretical sources not only in translation studies but also in anthropology, philosophy, Latin American studies, and other fields—brilliantly decolonizes, decenters, contests, and undoes prevailing paradigms. Gómez pushes back on translation studies’ Anglocentric tendencies by focusing primarily on translations between Spanish and Portuguese, and pushes boundaries in other directions, as well, not limiting her analyses to the printed word but including songs, graphic design, and even, in the final chapter (which redefines translation once again), digital media from Augusto de Campos’s Instagram account.” —Esther Allen, translator of Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto
“Cannibalism has been a provocative metaphor for translation, especially in Isabel C. Gómez’s fascinating study. Through her close readings, Gómez analyzes the vital function of mutual translations or transcreations among great poets and translators in Spanish, Portuguese, and English as a gift, or an act of literary reciprocity.” —Suzanne Jill Levine, author of The Subversive Scribe: Translating Latin American Fiction