29(2) - 2017

Tous les visages du traducteur - Une exploration traductologique de la métaphore du masque

Inger Hesjevoll Schmidt-Melbye


The many faces of the translator – A study of the mask metaphor


Discourse on literary translation is characterised by an extensive use of figurative language. The “mask” represents a recurrent metaphor used by translators as well as translation theorists. This article will probe some of its possible interpretations and their impact on the translational discourse. I will also discuss images associated with the idea of the text or the translator in disguise. Moreover, this article seeks to demonstrate that the idea of the “mask” could hold a practical potential, if one uses the metaphor as a kind of analytical tool. I apply the mask metaphor when analysing short textual excerpts from three contemporary novels and their translations. My aim is to combine this philosophical framework with the pragmatic dimensions of the translational process. I prove that the idea of the “mask”, often interpreted in negative terms, nevertheless emphasises the problematics of visibility versus invisibility while also raising important questions concerning the dialectics of the translator’s creativity and responsibility. The mask metaphor can therefore catalyse needed research on fundamental problems in translation.


Mask, direct and indirect discourse, treason, transmission, disguise

DOI 10.17462/para.2017.02.01

October 26, 2017
  29(2) - 2017