The translator as secondary witness: mediating memory in antelme's l'espèce humaine

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The primary aim of this article is to define and problematize the role of the translator as a "secondary witness" within the context of Holocaust memory transmission. It argues that the translator occupies an ethical position in relation to the survivor, one which necessitates that the translator is attuned to and perpetuates the communicative force of the original testimony. The article further recognizes the quandary of speaking the ineffable that attends trauma narratives, a representational bind which is then compounded in translation proper. In order to explore the effects of translation as an act of secondary witnessing, a case study will be undertaken on Haight and Mahler's English version of Antelme's (1947) seminal depiction of the concentrationary universe, L'espèce humaine. Drawing on Hatim and Mason (1990), the study will focus on the communicative, pragmatic and semiotic contexts of re-witnessing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-323
Number of pages15
JournalTranslation Studies
Issue number3
Early online date10 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


  • antelme
  • holocaust
  • secondary witnessing
  • testimony
  • translation
  • trauma


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