Sneak Peek 16: Guillermo Badenes

Double Dare: Assimilation or Queerification in the Translation of Will Grayson, Will Grayson?

Guillermo Badenes

Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina

Abstract: Over the past 20 years, after the LGBTQ liberationist movement has managed to make new voices heard and acquired certain social conquests – at least in a large portion of the Western world –, partly overturning decades of exclusion and segregation, gay literature has often focused on the stories of young men and women as a form of instilling positive values in the future generations. The mainstream publishing world in Spanish, which generally centers in Spain, has sometimes lagged behind LGBT+ times, publishing little queer literature and focusing only on canonical authors. Translation criticism from the cultural margins raises questions regarding the voices of alterity and, in this respect, it highlights the visibility of translators (and publishing houses) as subjective factors in the translation process. The ideological analysis of literary translation from the cultural margins may identify the role of translators as intercultural mediators who use strategies that highlight or subdue the LGBT+ characters of the texts they are translating. The young-adult, gay novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, written by David Levithan and John Green, presents an interesting challenge from the point of view of the separate discursive identities at play in it. Nonetheless, the novel was translated by only one professional, Noemí Sobregués, which is a situation calling for closer analysis to revise the strategies used to represent the duality of the text in terms of idiolectal authorship. In this respect, using the tools provided by Harvey (2000) and Burton (2010), this paper focuses on analyzing the role of this translator in the rendition of these authors’ novel in the larger context of what it is that publishing houses seek when they publish LGBT+ literature: to portray watered-down versions palatable to mainstream readerships or to queerify their publishing catalogues, and thence, possibly, the canon at large.

Bio: Prof. Guillermo Badenes is an instructor and researcher at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. He teaches Literary Translation and Translation of the Humanities at undergraduate and graduate levels respectively. As a researcher, he directs the SECyT (Universidad de Córdoba Department of Science and Technology) research project “Literary Translation Come Political Activism: Intervention Strategies”. He has published the book Traducción periodística y literaria (Comunicarte) as well as the translation of anthologies of Canadian prose such as El viejo sofá azul (Anábasis), Voces del norte (Ícaro) and Qué onda Canadá (Comunicarte). He has also published numerous academic articles in Argentina and abroad. Prof. Badenes is an active advocate for the recuperation of silenced voices in literature.