Writing in Tongues: Multilingual Poetry and Self-Translation in France from Dada to the Present

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This essay considers the case of some modern and contemporary bilingual and multilingual poets who have used translation creatively in the context of French literature. Far from attempting to erase the traces of the source language to make it more acceptable to a readership in the target language, these poets – from Hugo Ball, Jean Arp and Henri Michaux to Ryoko Sekiguchi, Caroline Bergvall and Anne Tardos – accept and even welcome the ‘radical artifice’ of their poetry and embrace the inherent foreignness of the word, even in the mother tongue. In myriad ways, their work explores language as a place of difference rather than equivalence, and as a site of slippage in which words are forever susceptible to bordering on other words and other languages, real or invented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-138
Number of pages20
JournalNottingham French Studies
Issue number2
Early online dateJun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2017


  • Multilingual poetry
  • translation
  • translation theory

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