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“(Re)presenting Translation: Prosimetrics, Female Agency, and the Arabic and Hebrew Intertexts in Evelyne Accad's L'excisée

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Evelyne Accad's novel L'excisée [The Excised] (1982) has long been hailed as an indispensable component of the Francophone literary canon. However, the reception of this book in the English-speaking world has been tepid at best, despite the growing popularity of Accad's literary corpus in (mostly) the United States and in Britain. In this paper, I argue that the principle reason for the Anglophone world's aforementioned lack of attention to the novel is inextricably linked to a series of major oversights in its English translation. More specifically, I demonstrate the manner in which the mistranslations of the prosimetric structure in the narrative of L'excisée (including its biblical and qur'ānic citations) have minimized the text's intertextual significance to such a degree that the book's overarching theme—the necessity of female agency as a counter to oppressive social practices—has no symbolic structure upon which to rest. To that end, this article elucidates the semantic, semiotic and stylistic functions of the prosimetric and intertextual configuration of L'excisée, in the hopes of offering a more just and culturally pertinent translation of the text's revolutionary message to the English-speaking reader.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Comparative Literature, The Pennsylvania State University;, Email:


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