Self-translation and exile: a study of the Cases of Ngugi Wa Thiong‘o and Ariel Dorfman

Maria Alice Gonçalves Antunes


In this article, we focus on the trajectories of exiled writers who act as self-translators and as “individuals who act purposefully in a social context” (Palumo 2009, 9). We discuss the extent to which exile has paved the way for self-translation and also transformed those exiled writers into individuals who act as self-translators, “ambassadors, agents” (Grutman and Van Bolderen 2014, 325) in the USA, “constantly fighting […] to restore [their] significance” (Brodsky 1994, 5). For the purposes of this study, we focus on the cases of the Kenyan novelist, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and of the Argentine-Chilean-American novelist and playwright, Ariel Dorfman. Both Ngugi and Dorfman have, in different ways, been forced out of their home countries, they have sought exile in the USA, and they have written and translated into (and out of) English throughout their lives. Our analysis of these two cases will use an adapted version of John Glad’s multidimensional model of the process of literary creation of exiled writers. By analyzing both these cases through an adapted version of Glad’s model, we hope to contribute to the discussion on self-translation and on exile as a fact that affects this activity directly and in different ways.  


Escritores exilados; Autotradutores; Autotradução; Agentes

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