Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Association for Literary Translation /Monash University


Faculty of Education and Arts


School of Communication and Arts




This article was originally published as: Elder, D. (2011). The opening and the ending of Paul Valéry's "Fragments of the 'Narcissus'": A case study for translators. AALITRA, May (3), 68-79. Original article available here


This paper will concentrate on what I recently called the formal content of the text for translators. Translation is an incomparable school of writing, and poetry in particular requires the development of specific linguistic skills in an essentially bicultural framework. A brief introduction to Valéry’s poetics will be followed by a study of the complex interactions between form and meaning in the opening and closing lines of his “Fragments of the “Narcissus’” with special reference to certain pages from his notebooks and other manuscripts. The objective here is to highlight some of his key aesthetic preoccupations before embarking on the final stage: an attempt at translating the many facets of sound and meaning in the lines we have chosen for this exercise. Last, but not least, this study is designed to increase an awareness of le restant / le residu – or what is left out or left over in translation.

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