Writing It Twice

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3206-1

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3205-4

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3204-7
Publication Date
November 2015
Page Count
192 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Writing It Twice

Self-Translation and the Making of a World Literature in French
Sara Kippur

Though the practice of self-translation long predates modernity, it has found new forms of expression in the global literary market of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The international renown of self-translating authors Samuel Beckett, Joseph Brodsky, and Vladimir Nabokov has offered motivation to a new generation of writers who actively translate themselves.

Intervening in recent debates in world literature and translation studies, Writing It Twice establishes the prominence and vitality of self-translation in contemporary French literature. Because of its intrinsic connection to multiple literary communities, self-translation prompts a reexamination of the aesthetics and politics of reading across national lines. Kippur argues that self-translated works should be understood as the paradigmatic example of world literature and, as such, crucial for interpreting the dynamics of literary circulation into and out of French.

About the Author

SARA KIPPUR is an assistant professor of language and culture studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.


"Writing It Twice is a timely, astute, and engaging study of several important modern and contemporary writers who have chosen to translate some (or almost all) of their important works into a second language, whether from their native tongue to their adopted language, or vice versa. It is elegantly written, cogently argued, and critically sophisticated... This is an original work by a sensitive and thoughtful critic." —Richard Golsan, author of French Writers and the Politics of Complicity: Crises of Democracy in the 1940s and 1990s 

"Kippur’s study is inspiring in that it places renewed importance on the fictional writer and the bilingual intellectual." —The French Review

"Sara Kippur makes a lively and persuasive case for self-translation as an activity with critical edge.  World literature and translation studies won’t be the same: they will be all the richer for taking account of doubled writing." --Sherry Simon, Concordia University 

"If, according to the Italian adage, translation is betrayal, autotranslation is a peculiar form of self-abuse. However, Writing It Twice, Sara Kippur’s scintillating contribution to the burgeoning field of translation studies, makes a compelling case for the centrality of translation to the existence and performance of world literature. And she demonstrates how authors who recreate their texts in another language offer tonic challenges to assumptions about originality, authenticity, and the boundaries between author and text. S.Y. Abramovitch, André Brink, Isak Dinesen, Ariel Dorfman, and Vladimir Nabokov are illustrious examples of self-translators, but Kippur chooses to focus on writers who work in and out of French, often idealized as a “universal” language. Her lambent case studies of Nancy Huston, Raymond Federman, Jorge Semprun, and Hector Bianciotti constitute vibrant and essential reading for anyone interested in the fertile nexus of language, literature, culture, and self." --Steven G. Kellman, Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio and author of The Translingual Imagination