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(Re)translating Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo

posted on 06.02.2017, 03:14 authored by Glennan, Patrick
There are two main sections to this thesis. A considerable part of the work consists of a new English translation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s 1958 novel Il Gattopardo, intended as an alternative to what to date is the only published English translation of the novel (by Archibald Colquhoun, first published in 1960). Accompanying the translation is a critical analysis of both the process of translating the novel, as well as of the final product itself. The first chapter of this critical analysis focuses on the author Lampedusa, his place in the cultural milieu of his day, and the novel and its history. As well as broader themes, I consider the centrality of history to an understanding of the novel, and to what degree it might be seen to conform to the modes of the more traditional historical novel. The cultural and historical contexts that I explore are seen as essential determining factors not only for a general understanding of the novel, but also with regard to its translation. In the second chapter I consider different theoretical aspects of translation. I discuss the question of retranslation, and offer both general arguments in support of it, as well as specific reasons for a new translation of Il Gattopardo. I also address the matter of the seeming diversity of theory within the discipline of Translation Studies, and how one might go about choosing the appropriate theoretical approach for a translation project such as this one. I give an account of my own experience of practice as it relates to the translation of Il Gattopardo, which involved an exploration of the way that a kind of theory naturally develops out of practice. I also outline the effect of my more direct engagement with theory, and how that in turn impacted upon my practice. Chapter 3 is concerned with the actual translation of Il Gattopardo. Bearing in mind some of the theoretical challenges discussed in Chapter 2 (which include the idea that texts are not imbued with definitive meaning and absolutely definable qualities, the theoretical impossibility of translation, and certain difficulties around the idea of equivalence and whether or not it can even be said to exist), I attempt to establish criteria for talking about the text and for guiding the transition from source to translation. I use a source text discourse analysis which takes into account factors that lie beyond the text itself, as well as specific characteristics and features of the text (such things as lexicon, syntax, the use of quotations, layers of meaning, sentence length, punctuation, etc.) that together contribute to an overall sense of “literariness”. However, in considering the question of style, and how to define it, I also allow for the possibility that it cannot necessarily be reduced to a series of attributes, but rather is constituted by something that is unique to every individual and essentially irreducible in its features and differences.


Principal supervisor

Rita Wilson

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Languages, Cultures and Linguistics


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts