Samuel Beckett and Translation

International conference organized by the University of Almería, Spain, and the SBS

9-11 May 2019



Confirmed keynote speakers: Erika Tophoven and Marek Kedzierski

Although Samuel Beckett’s literary career started in the late 1920s, he only really achieved international acclaim with En attendant Godot (1952), which he soon translated into English, beginning a pattern that would be repeated for the rest of his life. He also translated into French most of his writings in English, becoming, in the words of Nixon and Feldman (2009), the premier bilingual writer of the 20th Century. Very often he supervised the translation of his work done by others and it was frequent the consultation with the author by translators of his texts into a third language. At the same time, translation played a crucial part in his training as a writer; his translation of the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” section of Joyce’s Work in Progress, his work with Nancy Cunard’s Negro anthology, or his versions of surrealist poems in the early 1930s enabled him to develop the necessary skills to resolve the intricacies of linguistic expression that he would put into practice in his mature period. In times of necessity he even turned to translation to increase his income, as happened with the Anthology of Mexican Poetry in the early 1950s. However much he loathed translation, he never stopped translating, and it is the aim of this conference to raise questions about the role of translation in his literary production: What are the differences between the English and the French originals written and translated by Beckett? How does a Beckett text change when rendered into a third language? What strategies do translators employ to maintain the precision sought by the author in the original version? How does a text written by Beckett sound in other languages? We would like to create a forum of debate in order to find answers to these and other questions related to this emerging field of research in Beckett Studies.

Topics for papers may include:

-Beckett’s translations of other authors.

-Beckett’s self-translations into English or French: differences, losses and gains.

-Beckett’s collaboration with translators of his work into a third language.

-Beckett’s poetics of translation.

-Study of individual cases of Beckett’s translations into any language.

-Problems (and solutions) encountered by translators of Beckett’s work.

Please, send abstracts (300 words), including title and short bio (100 words) to sb-conf@ual.es by 31 December 2018.  The official language of the conference is English, but a reduced number of papers in French and Spanish will also be accepted. This conference is part of the research project SB-ST (code FFI2016-76477-P) funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades and AEI/FEDER. Organizing committee chaired by José Francisco Fernández, University of Almería.


Visit our Facebook page for more information on the conference