Vol. 44 No. 2 (1996)
Research Article

Gallic Joys of Joyce: On Translating Some Names in Finnegans Wake into French

Published 1996-06-01



We attempt to gauge the ways in which a translator of Finnegans Wake has dealt with the problem of conveying some proper names into French. The raw data are those of Chapter 1, together with their cross-references in other parts of the work. Some key sentences point to two homonymous and adjoining US counties, in Missouri and Illinois, separated by the Mississippi river, all of which James Joyce seems to have zoologically metaphorized as symbols of Earwicker and Anna Livia Plurabelle. Although not noticed by Joycean critics, this was apparently detected by the French translator, who conveyed it in cryptic fashion. We, in turn, by decrypting the translator, believe that he was put on the track of Joyce's imagery, a notion which appears valid even if mere serendipity on the part of the translator, or the author, were at work instead of intuition. Thus, it appears that onomastics can yield a great deal of thematic information about Finnegans Wake through translation.


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