“A Drop of Blood”: The Translation of Subversive Wordplay in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes
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The connection between style and criticism in the works of Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978) has been observed by several scholars yet so far none of them have focused on Warner's use of (critical) wordplay. Wordplay is a stylistic device that is particularly well-suited to delivering criticism, often inviting a decontruction of something that is generally accepted or taken for granted. In Warner's first novel, Lolly Willowes (1926), the critical abilities of wordplay are frequently exploited in order to deconstruct and expose the social mores of the British middle-class of the 1920's, particularly those mores that relate to unmarried, young women. Since I consider such critical wordplay crucial to the novel as a whole (LW is about an unmarried woman who leaves her family and their interference and expectations in order to live a solitary live in the countryside and ends up becoming a witch) my aim was to produce a Dutch translation of several fragments from LW containing wordplay; a translation that recognised and acknowledged the importance of LW's critical wordplay. The resulting annotated translation is preceded by an analysis in which I: provide relevant contexts; outline a theory of wordplay based on the work of Dirk Delabastita; select and provide a close reading of several wordplay examples; establish their function and effect; identify possible translation problems; find solutions that support the perceived function and effect of the wordplay as well as my personal reading of the text.