Translating/Reading ways into Michael Joyce’s Afternoon, A Story

Anne-Laure Tissut will try to show how translating Michael Joyce’s Afternoon A Story opens onto a new conception of reading. In each lexia, the reader’s knowledge varies according to the path she has been following, and may determine different choices for the translator. The dependence of meaning on context is thus enhanced, together with the various networks that develop in the reader’s mind, letting her anticipate a certain number of facts, actions, semantic fields and words, according to the mental picture she has been elaborating of the work. Several others sprout from the text whose uniqueness always ever was questionable, because of the remainder in language, meaning being bound to spring from associations and combinations that occur in the reader’s mind without having been planned by the writer. The extra flexibility brought by the electronic text medium only enhances features that were present before in the traditional text format. Translating Afternoon, A Story not only gave me access to a more enlightened, less intuitive reading of it, but to a more clear-sighted vision of the processes at work in any reading, and further, in perception, through the specific composition of the text and the various possible combinations of its lexiae: what happens to the continuity of the page in a traditional book? Can we actually grasp a whole page in a book? Don’t we out of necessity associate what we are reading with previous passages that seem to crop up in the very page we are reading, palimpsest-like? Above all, translating Afternoon, A Story involves a reflexion on the parts played by memory and imagination in reading, because of the medium used as well as of the diegesis: a man haunted by the vision of a car accident, terrified at the thought that he “m[ay] have seen [his] son die”, leading an investigation to find him and find out, mulling over several encounters and rehashing fragments of dialogues and thoughts. Then translating the electronic text becomes an archetypal act of interpretation and reconstruction.