Anger, Faith and Bewildered Fragments of Self: The Shaping of Ethos in an Argentinean Translation of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis




Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis, Translator’s ethos, Translated Drama, Rafael Spregelburd


4.48 Psychosis is British playwright Sarah Kane’s final play. Its opening took place at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London in June 2000, only a few months after Kane’s suicide at King’s College Hospital. The initial reception of the play was surrounded by controversy in the United Kingdom, with some reviewers and critics interpreting the theatrical text as primarily autobiographical (Urban 2011, p. 304; Claycomb 2012, p. 113). Informed by a socio-discursive perspective, which specifically looks at the construction of ethos (Amossy 2009, 2010; Author 2017; Author 2019, 2020), this research aims at contributing to the study of subjectivity in translated drama. Focusing on Rafael Spregelburd’s Argentinean Spanish translation of 4.48 Psychosis, published by Losada in 2006, we explore the shaping of subjectivity in the translated dramatic text highlighting the way in which the persona of the translator builds within and beyond the translated text. The case under study features the task of a drama translator who, probably on account of his vital presence in the Argentinean theatrical landscape, is often perceived as integral to the performance text. In this article, we will argue that an analysis of 4.48 Psychosis and, for that matter, of the translation of the play, based on the facts of the playwright’s life, may lack in substance and is, therefore, unproductive to assess the complex quality of the piece. While Spregelburd’s translation uses dramatic strategies and techniques that successfully foster the image or ethos of a rupturist playwright, it still stresses the autobiographical character often attributed to the text. This is particularly evident in the female gender construction of the main voice in the play, which is ambiguous in the source text. Our analysis therefore specifically looks at certain subjective forms in the translated text such as the use of inflected female marked adjectives. In a complementary fashion, our study also identifies the use of masculine forms and masculine generic forms to translate indeterminate forms in the original, which help establish antagonisms between female and male construed identities in the target text. This view, which becomes dominant in the translated text, is reinforced by the image or ethos of the translator as this is shaped within the translated dramatic text and its paratexts. Our analysis also explores the subjective construction of the translator’s persona and positioning in the target dramatic text and system. Assessed within the framework of Spregelburd’s whole production, detailed consideration is given to the use of paratextual devices as well as the translator’s own declarations in interviews.


Abraham, Luis. “La dramaturgia de Rafael Spregelburd en el marco del campo teatral argentino (1960-2009). Mímesis, ficción y modelos de mundo.” PhD thesis, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, 2013.

Amossy, Ruth. “Ethos at the crossroads of disciplines: Rhetoric, pragmatics, sociology.” Poetics today, 22(1), p. 1-23, 2001.

Amossy, Ruth. “La double nature de l’image d’auteur.” Argumentation et Analyse du Discours, 3, 2009. Available at:

Amossy, Ruth. La présentation de soi: ethos et identité verbale. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2010.

Arienza, Soledad. “Del plexo solar a la irradiación nerviosa de la existencia: diálogos entre Sarah Kane y Antonin Artaud en la constitución de cuerpos melancólicos.” Paper presented at VI Congreso Internacional de Letras, Transformaciones culturales, Debates de la teoría, la crítica y la lingüística, Universidad de Buenos Aires, CABA, 2014, pp. 91-98.

Aristotle. “Rhetoric.” Translation by William Rhys Roberts. In: McKeon, Richard (Ed.). The Basic Works of Aristotle. New York: Random House, 1941, pp. 1317-1451.

Armstrong, Jolene. Cruel Britannia: Sarah Kane’s Postmodern Traumatics. Bern: Peter Lang AG, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2015.

Aston, Elaine. “Feeling the Loss of Feminism: Sarah Kane’s ‘Blasted’ and an Experiential Genealogy of Contemporary Women’s Playwriting.” Theatre Journal, 63(4), p. 575-591, 2010.

Basz, Gabriela. “El cuerpo en el teatro posdramático: aportes al psicoanálisis.” PhD thesis, Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2017.

Billington, Michael. “How do you judge a 75-minute suicide note?” The Guardian. 30/06/2000.

Blanco, Marina. “Fragmentos aturdidos. La hibridación genérico-discursiva en 4.48 Psychosis de Sarah Kane.” Paper presented at VIII Congreso Internacional Orbis Tertius de Teoría y Crítica Literaria, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina, 2012.

Blanco, Marina. “Reflexiones sobre la relación texto-escena en el horizonte teatral posdramático. El caso de ‘4.48 Psychosis’ de Sarah Kane.” Tropelías: Revista de Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura Comparada, 27, p. 160-175, 2017.

Booth, Wayne. The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Brnci’c, Carlina. “Sarah Kane y el espectáculo del dolor.” Revista Chilena de Literatura, 69, p. 25-43, 2006.

Chatman, Stephen. Story and discourse. Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. New York: Cornell University, 1978

Claycomb, Ryan. Lives in Play: Autobiography and Biography on the Feminist Stage. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2012.

Covelli Meek, Giovanni. “Corporalidades del amor en tiempos violentos: consideraciones alrededor de los escritos de Sarah Kane.” Corpo Grafías Estudios críticos de y desde los cuerpos, 3(3), p. 48-65, 2016.

Crathorne, Tom. “‘Just a Word on a Stave and There is the Opera’: the interaction between music and libretto in Philip Venables’ 4.48 Psychosis.” Tempo, 75(298), p. 63-77, 2021. DOI:10.1017/S0040298221000401.

Dubatti, Jorge. “Capitalismo, enfermedad y tragedia.” In: Kane, Sarah. Ansia. 4.48 Psicosis. Buenos Aires: Losada, 2006, pp. 7-14.

Dubatti, Jorge. Teatro-matriz, Teatro liminal. Estudios de Filosofía del Teatro y Poética Comparada. Buenos Aires: Atuel, 2016.

Ducrot, Oswald. Le dire et le dit. Paris: Minuit, 1984.

Evans, Gareth. “The Composer as Auteur: Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis as an Opera.” 4.48 Psychosis Opera as Music and Text. Available at: < >.

Farfan, Penny & Ferris, Leslie. “Introduction.” In: Contemporary Women Playwrights: Into the Twenty-First Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 1-14.

Ginart, Belen. “Leonor Manso lleva a escena ‘4.48 Psicosis,’ de Sarah Kane.” El País. 30/06/2000.

González Méndez, Guillermo. “Los estados intersexuales y la disforia de género.” In: Antología de la sexualidad humana. México D.F.: Consejo Nacional de Población, 1994, pp. 123-72.

Greig, David. “Introduction.” In: Sarah Kane: Complete Plays. London: Methuen Publishing Ltd, 2001, pp. ix-xviii.

Hopkins, Cecilia. “No alcanza con suicidarse para ser Pizarnik o Kane.” Página 12. 20/06/2006.

Jones, Raya. “Towards dialogic epistemology: the problem of the text.” Qualitative Research’, 17(4), p. 457–472, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/1468794116671986.

Kane, Sarah. “Interview with Heidi Stephenson and Natasha Langridge.” In: Rage and Reason: Women Playwrights on Playwriting. London: Methuen, 1997, pp. 129-135.

Kane, Sarah. 4.48. Psychosis. London: Methuen Publishing Ltd, 2001.

Kane, Sarah. Crave, 4.48 Psicosis, Translation by Jiame Arrambide (Crave) & Pablo Rey (4.48 psicosis). Buenos Aires: Ediciones Artes del Sur, 2004.

Kane, Sarah. Ansia, 4.48. Psicosis. Translation by Rafael Spregelburd. Buenos Aires: Editorial Losada, 2006.

Kane, Sarah. Obras completas. Translation by Eva Varela Lasheras. Madrid: Continta me tienes, 2019.

Kansiz, Merve. ‘“Born in the Wrong Body”: The Articulation of Sexual SelfPerception in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis.’” Journal of Contemporary Drama in English, 5(2), p. 277-291, 2017. DOI:

King, Robert. The Ethos of Drama. Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Kritzer, Amelia. Political Theatre in Post-Thatcher Britain. New Writing: 1995-2005. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Lehmann, Hans-Thies. Le théâtre postdramatique. Paris: L Arche, 2002.

Maingueneau, Dominique. “Ethos, scénographie, incorporation.” In: Amos, Ruth Amos (Ed.). Images de soi dans le discours. Lausanne: Delacahux el Niestlé, 1999, pp. 75-100.

Marco, Josep. “Teaching Drama Translation.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 10(1), p. 55–68, 2002. DOI:10.1080/0907676X.2002.9961433.

Mateo, María. “Constraints and Possibilities of Performance Elements in Drama Translation.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 3(1), p. 21-33, 1995. DOI:

Molinari, Beatriz. “Leonor Manso: Las cosas bellas no necesariamente son lindas.” La voz. 6/10/2013.

Ordóñez, Marcos. “Pinter y Kane”. El País. 13/11/2019.

Rimoldi, Lucas. “La dramaturgia de Rafael Spregelburd y su recepción en el campo teatral alemán.” Gramma, XXI(47), p. 46-56, 2010. Available at:

Saba, Mariano. “Postdictadura y enseñanza de dramaturgia: algunas resonancias entre la dirección y la emergencia de un nuevo saber escriturario.” In: Ansaldo, Paula et al (Eds.). Perspectivas sobre la dirección teatral: teoría, historia y pensamiento escénico. Córdoba: Editorial de la Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, 2021, pp. 144-151.

Saunders, Graham. ““Just a Word on a Page and There is the Drama”: Sarah Kane’s Theatrical Legacy.” Contemporary Theatre Review, 13(1), p. 97–110, 2003.

Schiavi, Giuliana. “There is Always a Teller in a Tale.” Target, 8(1), p. 1-21, 1996.

Schóo, Ernesto. “Caraja-jí. El nuevo teatro.” La Nación. 25/12/1996.

Sierz, Aleks In- Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today. London: Faber and Faber, 2000.

Silva Hurtado, Nadia & Spregelburd, Rafael. “Entrevista: Rafael Spregelburd y el teatro traducido en América Latina.” Mutatis Mutandis, 6(2), p. 561-566, 2013.

Singer, Annabelle. “Don’t Want to Be This: The Elusive Sarah Kane.” TDR: The Drama Review, 48(2), p. 139-71, 2004.

Spoturno, María Laura. “The Presence and Image of the Translator in Narrative Discourse: Towards a Definition of the Translator’s Ethos.” Moderna Språk, 111(1), p. 173-196, 2017.

Spoturno, María Laura. “El retrabajo del ethos en el discurso autotraducido. El caso de Rosario Ferré.” Hermēneus. Revista de Traducción e Interpretación, 21, p. 323-354, 2019. DOI:

Spoturno, María Laura. “Bashir Lazhar on Paper and Stage or Retranslation from a Multimodal, Intermedial Perspective.” The Translator, 26(1), p. 77-90, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/13556509.2019.1694400.

Spoturno, María Laura (Ed.). Subjetividad, discurso y traducción: la construcción del ethos en la escritura y la traducción. Soria: Universidad de Valladolid, forthcoming.

Spregelburd, Rafael. “Nota del traductor a la edición de ANSIA y 4.48 PSICOSIS.” In: Kane, Sarah. Ansia, 4.48 Psicosis. Buenos Aires: Losada, 2006, pp. 139-152.

Stewart, Melanie. 4.48 Psychosis. Rowan Contemporary Dance Company, choreography & direction by Melanie Stewart, 7-10 Dec 2016 Suchet, Myriam. “Voice, Tone and Ethos: A Portrait of the Translator as a Spokesperson.” In: Taivalkoski-Shilo, Kristiina & Suchet, Myriam (Eds.). La

traduction des voix intra-textuelles/ Intratextual voices in translation. York: Vita Traductiva, 2013, pp. 159-184.

Taylor, Paul. “The mother of all dramas.” Independent. 9/9/1998.

Tindersticks. “4.48 Psychosis.” In: Waiting for the Moon, produced by I Caple & SA Staples, written by S Kane & SA Staples, 2003.

Torres, Rossana. “Conocer a Sarah Kane.” El País. 31/01/2009.

Urban, Ken. “An Ethics of Catastrophe: The Theatre of Sarah Kane.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 23(3), p. 36-46, 2001. DOI: 10.2307/3246332.

Urban, Ken. “Sarah Kane.” In: Middeke, Martin & Schnierer, Peter Paul (Eds.). The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary Irish Playwrights. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2011, pp. 304-322.

Venables, Phillip. 4.48 Psychosis. Royal Opera, Lyric Hammersmith, London, 4 May 2018. Available at: Access: 24 May 2022.

Werth, Brenda. “A Malvinas Veteran Onstage: From Intimate Testimony to Public Memorialization.” South Central Review, 30(3), p. 83–100, 2013. Available at: Access: 14 Apr 2022.

Zuber-Skerritt, Ortrun. “Towards a Typology of Literary Translation: Drama Translation Science.” Meta, 33(4), p. 485–490, 1988. DOI:10.7202/004168ar.

Zucchi, Mariano. “Subjetividad autoral en La modestia de Rafael Spregelburd.” Rasal, 1, p. 83-102, 2019.

Zucchi, Mariano. “Subjetividad autoral en La paranoia de Rafael Spregelburd: posicionamiento de burla y construcción de un ethos intelectual como mecanismo de legitimación enunciativa.” Revista Forma y función, 33(2), p. 167-186, 2020.



Como Citar

Spoturno, M. L., & Zucchi, M. (2022). Anger, Faith and Bewildered Fragments of Self: The Shaping of Ethos in an Argentinean Translation of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. Cadernos De Tradução, 42(1), 1–31.

Artigos Semelhantes

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

Você também pode iniciar uma pesquisa avançada por similaridade para este artigo.

Artigos mais lidos pelo mesmo(s) autor(es)