Navigating a Multisemiotic Labyrinth: Reflections on the translation of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves

By: Vasiliki Misiou


Volume: 06
Issue: 01:2020
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2020.0012
Pages: 243-264
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
social semiotics
cognitive poetics
interlingual literary translation



Multimodal literature is not a new phenomenon. However, thanks to today’s technological advances, authors are further enabled to orchestrate and blend various available modes and resources to achieve cohesion and coherence within highly complex texts. By looking at the intersection of semiotics and translation studies, this paper focuses on the Greek translation of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. This novel incorporates multimodal and ergodic features that contribute to meaning creation and engage readers physically and mentally. In such a context, a literary translator has to traverse not only linguistic and cultural boundaries, but other modes and media employed for representation and meaning production, as well. Thus, one wonders whether the translator has to adopt new strategies when translating a multisemiotic text. Is the translation part of meaning-making? In an age of a plethora of means and forms of expression, what constitutes writing and reading, and by extension translation, is challenged, and literary texts –now often multimodal semiotic ensembles– invite all parties involved in an interpretive game. Through the prism of multimodal social semiotics, translation, and literary studies, and with a focus on their interaction and interconnectedness, this paper attempts to explore the new practices and forms of literary translation and the impact of the use of semiotic resources as meaning-making tools on the translation decisions made and the role of the translator. Is multimodal literacy just the tip of the iceberg of the changes brought to the field of translation studies?


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