The analysis of Nadia Fusini’s translations of Virginia Woolf's novels
: an interdisciplinary approach

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis is a study of Nadia Fusini’s Italian translations of three novels by VirginiaWoolf: Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and The Waves. Fusini is an author, a literarycritic and a translator. In 1998, she was commissioned to edit the new Meridiani editionof W oolfs complete works and to retranslate those novels that had been ‘badly’translated into Italian. Her choice fell on W oolfs three modernist novels, which lendthemselves to an interdisciplinary study as they bring together elements offemininity/feminism, modernist experimentalism and biographical aspects of W oolfslife. Fusini herself, during an interview, declared that her threefold interest in feminism,literature and psychoanalysis had induced her to elect Woolf as a suitable subject ofstudy and a challenging author to translate.In line with the nature of the object of investigation and with recent theories ofDescriptive Translation Studies, this study follows an eclectic and interdisciplinaryapproach that utilizes bottom-up and top-down techniques and takes into account aconsiderable amount of paratextual information, such as the translator’s intentions andher ideological standpoint. The analysis of both source and target texts is supported bytheories in text linguistics, narratology, gender and translation studies. The aim of thisstudy is to evaluate to what extent Fusini’s interest in Freudian and Lacanianpsychoanalysis has affected her reading and translating of W oolf s novels. In particular,this thesis investigates how her views of Lacanian theories of lack, language and desire,and her phallocratic ideas of the role of the mother account for her psychobiographicalreading and translating Woolf. Translation shifts are analyzed against the Lacanianconcept of ‘phallic mediation’ versus the Woolfian notion of ‘female sentence’. Theresults show that Fusini de-textualizes W oolfs ‘female sentence’ and, countering hertranslation intentions, downplays the salient traits of W oolfs experimental writing.Indeed, she privileges a psychobiographical reading of her novels, which drawsattention to the relevance of the lack of the Lacanian object of desire in W oolfs life:her absent, yet ever present, mother/M/Other.
Date of Award1 Feb 2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAdalgisa Giorgio (Supervisor)

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