'Reader, i married him/her': Ali Smith, Ovid, and queer translation

Ranger, H. 2019. 'Reader, i married him/her': Ali Smith, Ovid, and queer translation. Classical Receptions Journal. 11 (3), p. 231–255. https://doi.org/10.1093/crj/clz009

Title'Reader, i married him/her': Ali Smith, Ovid, and queer translation
TypeJournal article
AuthorsRanger, H.
Abstract

This essay frames Ali Smith’s novel Girl meets boy (2007) as a ‘queer translation’ of Ovid, Metamorphoses 9.666-797. I argue that Smith’s presentation of a contemporary genderqueer Iphis and Ianthe not only fictionalizes the critical argument proposed by Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, but uses Gender Trouble as a queer translation manifesto. Reading Girl meets boy through this Butlerian lens, which foregrounds multiplicity and insists on the politically subversive potential of repetition, I show how Smith translates, re-translates, and re-writes Ovid’s text, to make queer identities that are made to disappear in the Latin ‘loosed’ in translation. I also propose a new reading of the conclusion of Ovid’s episode informed by Smith’s queer translation. I discuss Smith’s politicized use of repetition throughout the novel to produce queer translations which disrupt the surface homophobic discourse of the original text; and I situate the novel’s publication within its historical political context — before the legalization of same-sex marriage in England, Wales, and Scotland. In conclusion, I argue that a queer translation practice, as evidenced by Smith’s novel, is an activist project which combats homophobic discourse (ancient and modern) and allows ancient queer bodies and identities to retain their multiplicity in translation.

JournalClassical Receptions Journal
Journal citation11 (3), p. 231–255
ISSN1759-5142
1759-5134
Year2019
PublisherOxford University Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/crj/clz009
Publication dates
Published2019
ISBN17595142 17595134

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