Transmesis: Dealing with Translation in Translation
The concept of transmesis – a relatively new coinage that even among the seasoned theoreticians and practitioners of translation sometimes elicits a bewildered “trans what?” – is perhaps best illustrated in the works of Jorge Louis Borges. His character Pierre Menard from the widely anthologized story “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” for example, intends (apparently disregarding Horace’s famous “nec verbum verbo” reservation, if of course he happened to be familiar with it) “to produce a few pages which would coincide – word for word and line for line – with those of Miguel de Cervantes” (66). Borges’s “Library of Babel” in addition to the “the minutely detailed history of the future” also contains “the translation of every book in all languages” (Ficciones 81-82).
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