Corpus stylistics and translation studies: a corpus-assisted study of Joseph Conrad's Heart of darkness and its Italian translations

Mastropierro, Lorenzo (2016) Corpus stylistics and translation studies: a corpus-assisted study of Joseph Conrad's Heart of darkness and its Italian translations. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis carries out a corpus stylistic study of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and four of its Italian translations. It investigates the role of textual patterns as building blocks of the fictional world and triggers of literary themes. It also investigates the effects of translation on the relation between textual patterns and the fictional world, and discusses the potential consequences of translational alterations on the text’s themes.

Heart of Darkness is a complex and multifaceted text that deals with a multitude of themes and has been interpreted in many different ways. By offering an overview of the text’s literary reception, I foreground two major themes that emerge from the contemporary critical debate as particularly central to the discussion about Conrad and his text: “Africa and its representation” and “race and racism”. Through a keyword analysis, I establish a connection between these themes and the lexical level of the text. Adopting Mahlberg & McIntyre’s (2011) model, I group keywords into categories that reflect specific aspects of the fictional world and the thematic concerns of the text. I then select groups of keywords that relate specifically to “Africa and its representation” and “race and racism” for more in-depth examination. Specifically, I analyse how the African jungle and the African natives are linguistically represented in the text. I demonstrate that repeated lexico-semantic patterns shape these fictional representations and play a fundamental part in the interpretation of the two themes related to them.

I then focus on the Italian versions and compare them in order to show the effects of translation on the lexico-semantic patterns. I show that alterations made at the linguistic level affect the interpretational level of the translations, with potential consequences for the reception of the major themes in the target context. Finally, I use computational methods to compare the original and the translations at the level of whole texts, as opposed to feature-specific comparisons. I claim that together these two perspectives provide a more nuanced understanding of the relation between source and target texts.

Through this analysis, the present thesis explores how the fictional world and literary themes are constructed and conveyed in literature and in its translation. It also contributes to the critical discussion on Heart of Darkness and proposes a methodology to analyse and compare literary translations. Finally, as an interdisciplinary project, this thesis builds on the interaction between corpus stylistics and translation studies, and strengthens this relation further.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Mahlberg, Michaela
Oergel, Maike
Keywords: Joseph Conrad, Italian translations, Textual analysis
Subjects: P Language and literature > PR English literature
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Item ID: 33678
Depositing User: Mastropierro, Lorenzo
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2016 14:04
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 06:02

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