Translation and the Fantastic: Nancy Huston's 'Instruments des Tenèbres'

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The starting point for this paper is "translation," translation as a vital practical activity for the author Nancy Huston, and more broadly as a metaphor for the author's situation as an expatriate bilingual. Huston's autobiographical works, Nord perdu (1999), Désirs et Réalités (1995), and Lettres parisiennes: Histoires d'exil (Huston & Sebbar 1986) offer statements which can be used to elaborate components of the metaphor of translation: transfer, transformation, hybridity, and the double. The paper explains how conceptions of translation and conceptions of the fantastic bear close similarities. Although Huston is not known as an author who writes fantasy literature, the fantastic plays a central role in her novel Instruments des ténèbres (1996). The metaphor of translation is used in the paper as an interpretative framework with which to examine the workings of the fantastic in that novel. It is shown how the metaphor of translation permeates the novel in terms of setting and structure, and more importantly how translation bearing on the fantastic presents solutions to the two main characters regarding their attitudes to life, attitudes which may also be adopted by an expatriate bilingual in order to come to terms with his or her complex situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalFrench Forum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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