Je suis un autre: notes on migration, metamorphosis and self-translation

Alexandra Lopes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Friedrich Schleiermacher’s conception of translation revolves around one key factor that is often disregarded in discussions of his Abhandlung: the translator as the model of comprehension. Indeed, to translate well, the translator must approach the foreign text neither as a schoolboy nor as a polyglot, for the former lacks the necessary knowledge of language and authorial idiolect and the latter is, due to the proficiency in the language of the other, unable to recognize fully the foreign in the source text. The model of comprehension favored by Schleiermacher is therefore that of the ‘reader who is familiar with the foreign language, and yet that language always remains foreign to him’ (Lefevere, 1992: 152). The translator’s imbalance between the command of the mother tongue and thrust toward what is foreign in the other’s language is, therefore, both the touchstone and guarantor of the preservation of difference that should be akin to all translation. While embedded in a very particular Zeitgeist, Schleiermacher’s assumptions will need to be addressed in light of contemporary issues. This article aims to engage critically with Schleiermacher’s arguments, reflecting on their import to understanding of meanders of self-translation. Taking Schleiermacher’s views on the ideal comprehension model for translation as a starting point, I propose to examine the work of a German-born immigrant writer and translator in Portugal: Ilse Losa (1913-2006). My reflection will focus particularly on one of Losa’s novel Sob Céus Estranhos[Under Strange Skies], which she later translated into German under the title Unter fremden Himmeln. What Losa’s narrative brings to the fore is the complex web of relations between self and language, self and other(s), creativity and defamiliarization, showcasing the often unacknowledged fact that translatedness inhabits the creative gesture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew frontiers in translation studies
EditorsTeresa Seruya, José Miranda Justo
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783662479490
ISBN (Print)9783662479483
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameNew Frontiers in Translation Studies
ISSN (Print)2197-8689
ISSN (Electronic)2197-8697


  • German text
  • Grammatical gender
  • Late modernity
  • Migrant literature
  • Spatial presence


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