Exultant Forces of Translation and the Philosophy of Travel of Alphonso Lingis


Series: Contemporary Cultural Studies
BISAC: PHI018000

This monograph explores the relation between travel, language and culture in the context of the travel philosophy of Alphonso Lingis and translation theory. The traveller is seen as a translating agent and intercultural mediator. The book begins with an historical overview, tracing the interrelatedness of translation and culture from Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of dialogue, to the recent ‘cultural turn’ in translation theory, ethnography and philosophy. The monograph then turns its focus onto the philosophy of Alphonso Lingis. Lingis believes that rational language is unable to fully transmit meaning, arguing that ‘translation of culture’ requires the use of all senses. He calls for spontaneity in translation as bodily performance—highlighting the importance of the remainder or surplus in translation by emphasizing ways of knowing that are channelled through taste, touch, vision, smell and sound.

The traveller to a foreign country finds himself in a place like a deep woods: the unknown language he encounters speaks to him like a silent language and conveys no meaning. By placing the body at the centre, Lingis questions the idea of silence as muteness, and posits that the human voice, coming “from the bowels and tubes of the body,” is able to connect and evoke a reply, because “our voice does not produce the sound out of silence” (The First Person Singular 24). Thus, even where there is absence of a common language, communication is still possible by means of a corporeal grammar. The human voice “relays and responds to the voices of things” (25), which in feminist theory is called the sound of the Mother, the sound O, “a cave sound” where language is something that means more than it says: “Hearing the O means hearing the process of this continual relation between words and things, sounds and ideas, narrative and history” (Salvagio, The Sounds of Feminist Theory 10). Lingis posits that on one level there is the flesh of the world and the ‘sound of the Mother’ that unites us, and, on another, there is the particular body that gives voice to sound. In the absence of language, the body therefore still expresses, talks and collides, and our corporeal grammar opens up in language the possibility of defamiliarization, transformation and decentering.

Translation for Lingis is not a metaphor; it is a forceful transition to something indefinite. Travel adds to it new meanings, chances and adventures. The fact that Alphonso Lingis is located in the American culture as hegemonic global culture and that his native tongue is English affords his philosophy more tension and density. The chronotope – time and space – of his travel is the philosophical adventure on the road that leads to visionary discoveries and makes the philosophy an event. (Imprint: Novinka )

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Alphonso Lingis


Chapter 1 – Translation of Culture and Bakthtinian Dialogue (pp. 1-12)

Chapter 2 – Travel, Globalization and the Author of Translation (pp. 13-28)

Chapter 3 – Alphonso Lingis: Deconstructing the Canon (pp. 29-72)

Conclusion: – Chronotope of Lingisian Travel and Gifts of Translation (pp. 73-80)


Author’s Contact Information


a) Students and scholars of English and Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Translation and Cultural Studies
b) Translators, travel writers, journalists

“This is a fascinating study of an extraordinary man’s engagement with language and translation in today’s multifaceted world of intertwining cultures.” – Susan Bassnett, FRSL, Professor of Comparative Literature, Special Advisor in Translation Studies, Sub-Faculty of Modern Languages, University of Warwick

“Dalia Staponkutė interweaves literature, philosophy, and anthropology to make connections between the theory, practice and poetics of cultural translation. Particularly brilliant is the way she applies Bakhtin’s notion of the “chronotope of the road,” to unpack relationships of the body, travel, and translation in the writing of Alphonso Lingis.” – Stephanos Stephanides, FEA OSSI, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Cyprus

“While translators traverse numerous sources, such as dictionaries, metaphoric variations that never result in a copy of the original, this text is a way of telling the “traveler” that there is an intertwining of sense forming a mutual “transcreation.” The latter allows the traveler to form relationships with the other that neither has suspected. According to Staponkutė, Lingis adds another dimension to encounters by travelers across texts and cultures of different continents and peoples: body comportment. It is at this level that the author points to the ways that bodies “speak” and the ways they find some immediate sense and its linguistic inadequacies. There is a “transcreational intercorporeity” that spontaneously discloses and obscures our own self understanding and the understanding of the other – leaving us with a continuous wonder and fascination to learn more of what was still “unsaid” and what can never be fully said.” – Algis Mickunas, Professor of Philosophy, Ohio University

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