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‘Two Uses for Ashes’: Translation as Forgery in Anthony Burgess' Versions of Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli

Kratz, MU (2017) ‘Two Uses for Ashes’: Translation as Forgery in Anthony Burgess' Versions of Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli. Translation and Literature, 26 (1). pp. 52-71. ISSN 1750-0214

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Abstract

In 1978 Anthony Burgess published twelve translations from the original, biblically themed, Romanesco sonnets by the nineteenth-century Roman poet Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli in the journal Translation. It has been suggested that two of them (‘Two Uses for Ashes’ and ‘The Bet’) are in fact Burgess’ own creations, and not translations at all. In the context of Translation, the poems are fakes, a literary hoax or forgery - Burgess passed off as Belli. This article considers how the ambiguous status of Burgess’ two poems draws attention to the uneasy relationship between literary forgery and literary translation. In particular, it reflects on the way in which translation, as an act of mediation, has offered specific opportunities for the literary forger to stage textual interventions and inventions.

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