No Cover Image

Journal article 548 views 93 downloads

A Problem of Middlebrow Style: Dialect and Translation in Elena Ferrante’s Naples Tetralogy

Richard Robinson Orcid Logo

Textual Practice, Volume: 36, Issue: 4, Pages: 582 - 604

Swansea University Author: Richard Robinson Orcid Logo

  • 59154.pdf

    PDF | Version of Record

    © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

    Download (1.79MB)

Abstract

In what ways does the Bakhtinian model of novelistic discourse, in which dialects are conceived as styles and styles as dialects, apply in the age of world literature and world English? If the style of the contemporary world-novel is purposely drained of its heteroglossia, it risks complicity with a...

Full description

Published in: Textual Practice
ISSN: 0950-236X 1470-1308
Published: Informa UK Limited 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa59154
Tags: Add Tag
No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!
Abstract: In what ways does the Bakhtinian model of novelistic discourse, in which dialects are conceived as styles and styles as dialects, apply in the age of world literature and world English? If the style of the contemporary world-novel is purposely drained of its heteroglossia, it risks complicity with a frictionless communicability. This essay argues that the near-complete absence of napoletano in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, despite its magmatically latent energy, emphasises a refusal both to utter and be uttered by dialectal delinquency. The narrator says after Bakhtin ‘“I am me” in someone else’s language, and in [her] own language, “I am other”’, but without any relish in dialogism. Canonical writers such as Verga, Svevo, Pasolini and Ginzburg also respond to the extraordinary rapidity with which dialects were largely subsumed by spoken as well as written Italian. Yet Ferrante prompts new questions about how the global cultures of reception are gendered. She resists the narcissistically masculinist performance of a named style, implicitly and pseudonymously writing for the majority female readership. Ferrante embraces the gendered sensibility of the primarily female ‘middlebrow’, a category now conceived without stigma as immersive, pleasure-giving, cognitively complex and generically transgressive. Under such conditions, the questione linguistica is repeatedly confronted in narrative: its evasion in language marks both the constraints and possibilities of pan-feminist translatability in the ‘world lit’ economy.
Keywords: dialect; middlebrow; style; translation; Ferrante; world literature
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Issue: 4
Start Page: 582
End Page: 604