Illustrated translations longing for the middle ages, Exemplified by modern french versions of Aucassin et Nicolette

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The relations between the verbal component, the visual component, and the translational aspect of a given text have been discussed and described by translation scholars and semioticians in a diversity of manners. A significant graphic element may be introduced during the translation production, usually in dialogue with the verbal one, thus creating a new intersemiotic text. Medieval manuscripts are known for offering their readers illustrations, miniatures, rubrics, decorated initials, colored and gilded details, and other visual ingredients. As a result, the codex functions as an essential interpretive agent rather than a passive container for verbal texts. This model of the intricate illuminated manuscript was imported into modern culture systems through transfer. However, in reality, most manuscripts exhibit simple decorative schemes or are plain and unadorned, which means that ornaments in their current versions most likely derive from the model mentioned above. The paper looks at the productivity of this medieval model by examining various visual components inserted into the printed modern french translations based on the unmistakably plain manuscript of the thirteenth-century work Aucassin et Nicolette. The analysis will focus on the illustrated translations, addressing the added elements and their characteristics, their relation to the model, the increased determinacy they create, and the resulting reading they seem to encourage. We will suggest that even the narration levels and the performative aspect of the text may be affected by the new, intersemiotic nature bestowed upon this ancient text through the integration of other modalities into its translations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-183
Number of pages23
JournalPunctum International Journal of Semiotics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Aucassin and nicolette
  • Cultural transfer
  • Illustration
  • Intersemiotic translation
  • Paratext

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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