Jacques Derrida: Translation and the Paradox of Decadence and Survival


  • Amir Ali Nojoumian


This paper is a study of the ideas of translation and the original text in the writings of Jacques Derrida in order to explicate the curious relation of the original to the translation and ask the following question: Does translation give the original an after-life and enable it to survive, or does it instead ‘kill’ the original and substitute it with a decayed text? Jacques Derrida, in turn, takes two main themes from Benjamin’s essay and gives these terms a more generalised meaning: Derrida examines the notions of the ‘kinship of languages’ and ‘survival’ in the act of translation and then situates them within his new definition of the ‘text’. I would argue that Derrida sees translation as inevitable. Translation is inevitable in the sense that the translation preserves the multiple meanings of the original text and in turn demands more translations to create more multiple meanings. Translation as an act of interpretation makes every text prone to multiple translations none more authoritative than the other, but the texts demand translation as it is the secret to their survival. In a roundtable on the question of translation and Benjamin, Derrida recapitulates his reading of Benjamin’s theory of language. He speaks of a ‘mutual contract’ between the translation and the original in general terms. The translation and the original not only demand one another and suspend each other’s decay but they also enable language to survive through this symbiotic relationship.



How to Cite

Nojoumian, A. A. (2006). Jacques Derrida: Translation and the Paradox of Decadence and Survival. Translation Studies Quarterly, 4(13). Retrieved from https://journal.translationstudies.ir/ts/article/view/84



Scientific Research Paper