Cassio de Oliveira

Isaak Babel’s “Guy de Maupassant”

In my presentation, I argue that the act of translation plays a crucial role in enabling the narrator of Isaak Babel’s masterful short story “Guy de Maupassant” to manifest his views on art and aesthetics. The narrator of “Guy de Maupassant” recalls his affair with a woman whom he helped to produce a Russian translation of Maupassant’s stories. Insofar as their collective translation becomes also an act of interpretation and ironic reenactment of passages from the stories, I demonstrate that translation constitutes the starting point in a chain of actions that also contains interpretation, “reality” or “real life,” and that culminates with literary creation – both Maupassant’s and Babel’s.

Link to presentation

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