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Reading: Queer Decorum: An Episode on Translation and Marginalized Sexualities


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Research Article

Queer Decorum: An Episode on Translation and Marginalized Sexualities


María Julia Rossi

CUNY, John Jay College, US
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The queer aspect of national literary histories has been traditionally obscured, and although it is gradually being recuperated, the impact of translation has been so far overlooked. Using the example of modernist fiction from England translated into Spanish and published in Argentina, I argue that translation smuggles, purposely misappropriates and resignifies alternative sexual desires and gender identities, opening spaces for local literatures to further explore these possibilities. Translation episodes from the 1940s and 1950s in Argentina are key to reconstructing the obscured history of literary queerness and I focus on one example that is perhaps the earliest, a translation of Denton Welch’s “When I Was Thirteen” by Jose Bianco of Sur magazine which appeared as “Cuando tenía trece años,” published in September 1944. Rather than isolated instances, such translations served to slowly transform the sentimental landscape of Argentine literature in a context where the popular imagination was prescriptively heteronormative. This article exhumes this little-known episode as one of the first cornerstones in a queer chapter of literary history in translation. Strictly related to depictions of homosexual desires, I propose “queer decorum” as an approach that affects translation strategies and decisions, subsequently affecting the translated text as a result and somehow making its publication possible.

How to Cite: Rossi, M.J., 2022. Queer Decorum: An Episode on Translation and Marginalized Sexualities. Latin American Literary Review, 49(98). DOI:
Published on 03 Apr 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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