Les Belles Infidèles

March 2011

Supported by National Endowment for the Arts

Les Belles Infidèles consists of a short story — written specifically for this project by Benjamin Rosenbaum — that has been translated and retranslated by more than 40 translators into 15 languages. The project is an exploration of the story’s compounding mutation as the translators attempt to make it work in different languages and cultures.

The term “les belles infidèles” comes from a 17th century quip by Gilles Ménage in which he compared a set of translations to an acquaintance of his: beautiful but unfaithful. The phrase has come to express the tension between making a translation seem natural in the target language versus keeping it as close as possible to the original text.

The project’s source code is available under a GNU Affero General Public License and the original short story can be used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.


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