Sunday, 22 November 2009

Event for Barbara Wright, London, March 2010

Barbara Wright, who died last year, was one of the best-known literary translators in Britain. In her honour, a conference is being organised in the spring to discuss her work. It should be very interesting for anyone interested in twentieth-century French literature and translation.

TRANSLATION AS ART: Barbara Wright, Literary Translation and Creation
Friday 26th March 2010

Birkbeck University of London
Clore Building, 25-27 Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL
Room CLO GO1
10 am – 4 pm
Institut Français
17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT
6 – 7.30pm

Speakers include: David Bellos; Celia Britton; Breon Mitchell; John Calder; Nathalie-Piégay-Gros; Régis Salado; Paul Fournel; Jill Fell; Ros Schwartz; Arlette-Albert-Birot

Focusing on the work of Barbara Wright (1915-2009), musician, art critic and translator from French into English, this one-day international colloquium will have two main aims. It will firstly investigate several aspects of the literary translator’s work, from the choice of the text to be translated and published to the archival treatment of the work involved in the process of translating. In analysing the translator’s work as mediator and creator, the colloquium will investigate the relationships between music, literary criticism, interpretation and textual production.

It will also examine some of the challenges faced by the translator as well as by the reader of avant-garde, non-canonical texts. In so doing, the colloquium will secondly discuss the work of a selection of the writers translated by Barbara Wright (Jarry, Albert-Birot, Tzara, Arrabal, Queneau, Sarraute, Pinget… among others*). Given some of these choices of texts and authors, a particular feature will be the translation of humour. It is also hoped that this colloquium will provide a less familiar map of twentieth-century French Literature, including Pataphysics and the OULIPO.

The conference is organised with the support of Birkbeck University of London’s Centre for Multilingual & Multicultural Research (CMMR) and Department of European Cultures and Languages; the University of Westminster’s Department of Modern and Applied Languages; and the Service Culturel de l’Ambassade de France in London in partnership with Indiana University Bloomington.

Conference organisers: Debra Kelly, Professor of French and Francophone Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Westminster; Jean-Marc Dewaele, Professor of French and Multilingualism, Birkbeck University of London; and Madeleine Renouard, Emeritus Reader in French, Birkbeck University of London.
Conference fee: (includes tea/coffee and sandwich lunch) £15; students £10.
Free to Birkbeck and University of Westminster students, past and present.

*For a list of Barbara Wright’s translations, and conference registration details, please contact: H.Scott at

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