Le Deuxième Sexe Seventy Years On: Reading Beauvoir around the World

By Ursula Hurley and Szilvia Naray-Davey

Version française ICI.

This fall, international scholars gathered to celebrate and debate the continued significance of Le Deuxième Sexe (1949) as a fundamental source of philosophical feminist knowledge. The conference set out to explore the intersections of Beauvoirian Studies and Translation Studies in order to trace holistically the dissemination of Beauvoirian thought on a global scale. While the controversy surrounding both translations into English has been well-documented (Simons 1983 ; Moi 2010), the scholars present sought to move beyond Anglophone issues, considering the text’s translation trajectories into other languages and the specific synergies between translations which had yet to be mapped transnationally.

Professor Lynne Huffer’s opening remarks resonated these concerns, describing translation practice as an open edgework, an expansive activity that lives across boundaries and within faultlines. Our keynote speaker Professor Penelope Deutscher extended these concepts by drawing our attention to the ambiguity of lived experience, noting that translation returns us to alterity and the complexity of conceptual networks, revealing Beauvoir as both foundational and made strange by the defamiliarized readings required of translation practice.

These addresses were followed by 13 papers, selected from an open call for abstracts and featuring speakers who considered Le Deuxième Sexe in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Norwegian, Polish, Serbian and Hungarian. These talks surfaced the complexities of translating philosophy, and the political, social, ethical and economic pressures inherent in such acts of translation. The diversity and richness of this material coalesced around the need for a deep understanding of Beauvoir’s intellectual project, her conceptual networks and lineages, in order to communicate her thought effectively.

The talks were followed by a round-table workshop, in which the linguistic/conceptual challenges of translating the key Beauvoirian terms “situation”, “devenir”, “femme”, and “sexe” were explored in detail from the perspectives of multiple target languages.

Our conference, organised by Julia C. Bullock and Pauline Henry-Tierney, was generously hosted by Emory University, whose support enabled a diverse community of scholars working in translation studies, philosophy, literature, linguistics, drama and creative writing to assemble for two warm October days of fruitful exchange and conversation. An edited volume is now in preparation.

Ursula (left) and Szilvia (right), authors of this article. © Ursula and Szilvia.

 
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The authoresses
 
Ursula Hurley and Szilvia Naray-Davey are practice-based researchers working on translation in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford, UK. They are particularly interested in contemporary Hungarian literature by women, and its translation into English. From this interest comes a curiosity about Beauvoir’s influence on women’s writing in Hungary. Ursula is a literary critic and published creative writer. She knows very little Hungarian (but is rapidly learning more!). Szilvi is a theatre practitioner and drama translator, who is trilingual. Her abilities with Hungarian, French and English make her extraordinarily well placed to understand Beauvoir’s reception in Hungary. Together, Ursula and Szilvi are developing a long-term collaboration, in which they seek to evolve effective translation strategies, capable of bringing contemporary Hungarian literature by women to an Anglophone readership.
 
To cite this article : Ursula Hurley, Szilvia Naray-Davey, “Le Deuxième Sexe Seventy Years On: Reading Beauvoir around the World”, Chère Simone de Beauvoir, janvier 2020. URL : https://lirecrire.hypotheses.org/2252 

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Marine Rouch

Doctorante à l'université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès - Histoire contemporaine des femmes et du genre - Histoire littéraire - Laboratoire FRAMESPA (UT2J) - Laboratoire ALITHILA (Lille 3). CV ici : https://lirecrire.hypotheses.org/curriculum-vitae

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