The novel Mütercim as a site of transfiction: A case of translation in life and the translation of life in the transformational republican era in Turkey


  • Sema Üstün Külünk Doğuş Üniversitesi


Fictional translation, transfiction, fictional translator, transmesis, ideological translation.


Translation has a rich history in Ottoman and Turkish literature, and a study of transmesis in a transfiction has great potentials for analyzing the praxis and pragmatics of translation in Turkey. This study focuses on the translational action in the mirror of fiction with a case study on the Turkish novel Mütercim (2013) [Translator] by Alper Gürkan. Investigating translation both as a performance (i.e., text) and an experience (i.e., agency), the analysis is constructed upon four categories: 1) actual translation in its technical sense; (2) the agency of the translator as a subject and object of the translation; (3) figurative/metaphoric use of translation; and (4) the potentials of mistranslation vis-a-vis pseudotranslation. The multi-layered translational baggage of the novel serves as a site par excellence to delimit the definition of translation, which begins as a faithful translation and ends up as an almost genuine writing, a mistranslation in the novel. Skillfully imposed attributions to change, transformation, fragmentation, and dislocation under a translational context determine the fate of both the text and the agent in Mütercim: corrupted and originally lost. This elegy for origins resonates in the discourse of the author as neo-Ottoman fantasy where we witness the emergence of translation as the lieu of historical criticism under the guise of a transfiction.