The Italian Programme and the New Zealand Literary Translation Centre Seminar - Dr Eliana Maestri (Guest Lecturer)
Date: 16 August 2012 Time: 4.10 pm
Venue: von Zedlitz Building, Room vZ606, Kelburn Parade
Topic: “Translating Jamaica Kincaid into Italian: Voices from the Abyss"

This paper engages with the Italian translation of J. Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother (1996) as a polyphonic text that enters into a dialogue with the Verona-based philosophical feminist group Diotima and Julia Kristeva. The intersections between Diotima and Kristeva are useful in understanding the negative tone of the book and what links the homicidal nature of the female protagonist to the mother and the maternal in Italian. In order to do this, the paper looks at lexical and thematic reverberations within the Target Text and between the Target Text and the literary output of the Italian receiving culture. Some of these lexical and thematic reverberations, which enhance in different forms the aesthetic value of the negative tone of the book, are holes, abysses, chiasmus, litotes, aporias, participative oppositions and mises-en-abyme. These embedded and embedding figures open a laceration in the text and invite the Italian reader to listen carefully to the attractive chanting of the abyss which unearths maternal precepts and challenges dual thinking and the Master-Slave logic presiding over colonial territories. The paper shows the Italian translation’s linguistic sophistication, the semantic approach to the original and the faithful consistency in reproducing Kincaid’s ideologically loaded rhetoric.