On translation & love





translation, love, literature, philosophy, reading, writing


This piece meditates on the possibility that translation, which entails openness to the possibility of another, and love, which always already involves reading, are not quite the same thing but are potentially inseparable from each other. All while bearing in mind the fact that translation, even when done with love, always also transforms the text: changing it in ways that might fundamentally alter it, for better or worse.

Where the translator is always also potentially a traitor.

Who (s)he betrays though — the text, herself, the other, their relation — might well be the question.

Though, as Neil Murphy once told me, “reading literature with your head is always a mistake”. So, instead of attempting to rationalise a text — reign it in, make it safe, tame it — perhaps all we can do is to open ourselves to a work.

And listen.

Hoping it takes my breath away.


Badiou, Alain, with Nicolas Truong. In Praise of Love. Translated by Peter Bush. London: Serpent’s Tail, 2012.

Baudrillard, Jean. Carnaval et Cannibale. Paris: Éditions de L’Herne, 2008.

Blanchot, Maurice. L’attente l’oubli. Paris: Gallimard, 1962.

Cixous, Hélène. Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing. Translated by Sarah Cornell and Susan Sellers. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Derrida, Jacques. The Ear of the Other: texts and discussions. Translated by Peggy Kamuf from the French edition edited by Claude Lévesque and Christie McDonald. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988.

Dufourmantelle, Anne. Éloge du risqué. Paris: Éditions Payot & Rivages, 2014.

Fernando, Jeremy. A Ghost Never Dies, with illustrations by Lucía Sbardella. Lima: Errror de Imprenta, 2021.

Fernando, Jeremy. Writing Skin, with paintings by Pan Huiting, installation art by Gaspar Acebo and Marcos Mangani, and charcoal drawings by Yanyun Chen. Singapore: Delere Press, 2020.

Fernando, Jeremy. Tómate un paseo por el lado oscuro del camino, acompañado de ilustraciones de Juliana Manarino, con una traducción de Manuel Bernardo Vargas Ricalde. Buenos Aires: Continente, 2019.

Fernando, Jeremy. in fidelity. Singapore: Delere Press, 2016.

Fernando, Jeremy. Writing Art, with an introduction in the Italian by Alessandro De Francesco. The Hague: Uitgeverij, 2015.

Fernando, Jeremy. Reading Blindly: literature, otherness, and the possibility of an ethical reading. New York: Cambria Press, 2009.

Genet, Jean. The Criminal Child: selected essays. New York: The New York Review of Books, 2020.

Genet, Jean. Querelle. Translated by Anselm Hollo. New York: Grove Press, 1974.

Hamacher, Werner. Premises: essays on philosophy from Kant to Celan. Translated by Peter Fenves. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Kierkegaard, Søren. The Seducer’s Diary. Edited and translated by Howard V. Hong & Edna H. Hong. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Kraus, Chris. Aliens & Anorexia. Los Angeles: Smart Art Press, 2000.

Lim, Lee Ching. The Works of Tomas Tranströmer: the universality of poetry. New York: Cambria Press, 2017.

Lim, Lee Ching. Pure and Faultless Elation Emerging from Hiding, featuring illustrations from Britta Noresten, with an introduction by Neil Murphy and an afterword by Jeremy Fernando. Singapore: Delere Press, 2017.

Murphy, Neil. John Banville. London: Bucknell University Press, 2018.

Murphy, Neil, and Keith Hopper, eds. The Short Fiction of Flann O’Brien. Illinois: Dalkey Archive Press, 2013.

Nancy, Jean-Luc. Listening, translated by Charlotte Mandelle. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.

Ronell, Avital. The Telephone Book: technology, schizophrenia, electric speech. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

Rushdie, Salman. The Satanic Verses. Dover: The Consortium Inc., 1988.

van der Kamp, Peter. Scratch & Sniff. Edited by Lim Lee Ching with an introduction by Jeremy Fernando. New York: Atropos Press, 2010.

von Kleist, Heinrich. “On the marionette theatre.” Translated by Thomas G. Neumiller, in The Drama Review: TDR 16, no. 3: 22-26.

Žižek, Slavoj. The Ticklish Subject: the absent centre of political ontology. London: Verso Books, 1999.






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