Liminal Translation, Translating Liminality and Translatability as Limen:

Andrea Camilleri’s The Shape of Water


Alistair Rolls

University of Newcastle


Andrea Camilleri’s La forma dell’acqua (1994) is the first of his acclaimed series of Inspector Montalbano novels. Its translation into English in 2002, by the also much acclaimed Stephen Sartarelli, as The Shape of Water, allowed Anglophone readers to access not only an example of high-quality Italian crime fiction but also an example of crime fiction that is about translation. Sartarelli’s version will not be analysed here in terms of its translation qualities, since I am quite unable to speak Italian; it will be considered, instead, as a vehicle for a will to translation, or translatability, that is always already present in the original text. My focus here will be on the choice of the liminal space of the beach to mark the liminal edge of this first novel (the limen of the series). The Shape of Water, as an enigmatic title (paratextual puzzle) and philosophical paradox, will be shown to correspond to the text’s wilful vacillation between body (original as exemplary textness) and intentionality (translation as textuality, both re-actualised translated version and virtual otherness or translatability). The ramifications of this (un)marking of liminal territory on the mystery it contains (or fails to contain) will be explored. While there is some truth in Carlo Vennarucci’s (2003, n.p.) statement as to the excellent translation of Italianness in The Shape of Water – “Stephen Sartarelli does an admirable job in translating Camilleri’s novel from the Italian. While reading The Shape of Water, you always get the sense that this is an Italian mystery about Italian characters and written by a superb Italian author” – it seems equally clear that Italianness (versus both Italian otherness and foreignness) is being signed “in translation”, by both Camilleri and his translator, which is to say, problematised and decentred. Translation and translatability will be explored here as reflexive stagings of textuality, which in turn focus our readerly attention on the ironic and reflexive ways that Camilleri and his detective negotiate the shape of water.

An Ontology of Liminality

In Sartrean existentialism human existence, man’s freedom, is contingent and inescapably situated in the world. It follows that, we cannot simply “be”; our state of being is therefore always already qualified (we are, for example, in the world or conscious(ness) of being or doing something). This same situatedness, however, which sees man, the being-for-itself, attached to the world, also sees us separated from it. This is the paradox of the being-for-itself, who is on the one hand a hard living body and, on the other, a liquid consciousness that is continuously projected onto the world (hence Sartre’s idea of Nausea and related references to consciousness’s vomiting outwards onto the world as opposed to a digestive awareness of the world that would see it consumed and brought into the self). This intentionality of the self, this moving beyond one’s own physical trappings, occurs across what existentialists term a negating strip, insofar as it conditions human identity in terms of what it is not (we are not the world, for example, and yet, of course, we are also situated in it, metonymic of it and unable to exist outside it). This negating strip is infinitesimally thin but nonetheless present; it is what allows us to be free. What Sartre labels nothingness is therefore a limen, whose significance lies not only in “its position or shape but also [in] its disruptive forces and generative power” (Bredendick 2004, p. 1). The movements of consciousness that occur across this negating strip are not, however, as obviously bilateral as they are in such liminal spaces as a doorway or other physical thresholds that admit entrance and exit as well as constituting barriers to these movements; consciousness is a leaking outwards, albeit one that is always already recalled by the body (and thus backwards to the threshold), but the movement of the world into consciousness is itself continuously blocked and frozen on the surface as an image recognisable – to others – as us. In this way, other people know us as we really are, which is to say, as we appear to others, as we are in the world.

In this article I wish to explore certain aspects of the translatability of text with especial focus on a text privileging liminal space, and particularly the littoral space that is the beach. My reason for beginning with an overview of Sartrean ontology lies in the parallel that I see between human and textual existence. For both a human being and a text, to be free is to embrace a paradoxical state of being, in which one’s meaning is independent from the world but also dependent on it. This is why all literary reading operates a movement across a limen; all reading, in other words, is arguably an act of translation. While it is not my intention to pursue a definition of “translation” here that does not correspond to what is generally meant by the term in literary circles (the production of a version of a text in another language), this idea is key to the understanding of translatability on which the textual analysis that I offer here is predicated and which is inspired by Walter Benjamin’s famous use of the term (1968). The human being’s understanding of self is dependent on the image of self that is read by other people. This is why we have no trouble understanding who it is that we are talking about when we refer to a particular person but why people are still able to hold differing views about a person (and why that individual necessarily eschews those readings of his or her self while recognising him or herself in them).

If this notion of identity applies also to a text, it is to some extent because of the nature of our limen. The barrier that we present to the world, our dermis, is made up of dead cells; in other words, other people intuit the living beings that we are via a reading of us as dead matter. In literary terms, a living text as viewed from the author’s perspective, can be considered to be dead from the moment that it becomes conflated with the physical matter (a mixture of dead and non-living material) on which it is printed, from which moment it can be considered a closed, transparently meaningful system, or “work”, to use the term in the sense attributed to it by the French poststructuralists and deconstructionists of the Yale School. Indeed, the French term to complete a work of art – achever – also means “to put to death”. This is why, for Roland Barthes (1973), to read actively, or against the grain, is to produce the writerly text, to bring the text (back) to life; similarly for Jacques Derrida (1979), textual existence is construed as an after-life, a living-on. The Sartrean being-for-Others is also, I should suggest, a form of living-on. A human being only coincides fully with self, or becomes self-founding, in death, at which point we become indissociable from our bodily form (unable to intend beyond the body and thus to assume freedom in auto-differentiation) and thus equal to the sum total of our past actions. At this point we become the story of ourselves, our only existence being vicarious, in the narratives of others. And yet, even in life, the face that we offer to the world, by which we are understood, is a foreshadowing of this death. In other words, by the nature of our dermal limen we offer ourselves to the world as a story, a living text displaying itself as a finished work. This is, to some degree, a reflexive display of self: a living-on.

In the novel that I shall examine here, Andrea Camilleri’s La forma dell’acqua (The Shape of Water) littoral space, with its sand that is often made up of the dead remains of marine fauna, speaks of the textual interface, staging it reflexively. This is particularly so because Camilleri’s novel uses this liminal space at that point where the extra-textual (whose existence was famously denied by Derrida (1988, p. 136) with his announcement that there is nothing outside the text: “il n’y a pas de hors-texte”) meets the textual in the form of the diegesis. At this point, just on the textual side of the paratext (which for Genette is that element that allows the work to reach out to the reader and the reader to take possession of it), text is necessarily at its most reflexive, offering itself to the reader as a dermal layer to be crossed.

On the Edge of the Text

The 2004 paperback version of The Shape of Water announces its colours as early as its cover, with a quote from Donna Leon: “The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humour, and the sense of despair that fill the air of Sicily”. This description, which is repeated on the first page beneath the cover, does two things: on the one hand, it describes Camilleri’s work as an embodiment of all things Sicilian; on the other hand, it gives to this description that Sartrean edge of an exporting – a breathing out – of this culture.

The peritextual blurb, by dint of its position at the limen between the text and the reading public, is necessarily reflexive, and here what is packaged for export is a translation. The rear cover at once blurs and reinforces this idea of the inside moving out: a quote from the Sunday Times sees as Camilleri’s most defining characteristic his way of “conveying an insider’s sense of authenticity”. The double movement inherent in liminality is again stressed primarily as being one of an inner, or true, self being transferred, translated outwards. This paradox is only reinforced by the nature of Camilleri’s detective, Salvo Montalbano, who, despite being its most critical consumer, has a relationship to Sicily that can be described as in good part digestive, be it in the form of the meals that he enjoys in some quantity or the media reports that he takes in whenever he can. (The clear caveat here is that he rejects food that is not of the highest quality and rails against the low-quality and biased reporting that he watches and reads when he is not himself feeding it.) Indeed, the culinary aspect of Camilleri’s novels is picked up by the following quote from The Guardian, again taken from the rear cover: “Montalbano is a cross between Columbo and Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, with the added culinary idiosyncrasies of an Italian Maigret. […] The smells, colours and landscapes of Sicily come to life.” Authenticity is given a different edge here: this time, Sicily is not embodied as much as it is given body; the colours that it receives are a fusion of genre-based comparisons that see Montalbano’s Sicily become a Franco-Italian hybrid, informed by American crime classics of the screen and page (reflecting the two principal ways in which news media are accessed in the novels). Seen in this light, Sicily becomes truly itself in a way much more compatible with Sartrean ontology: it “comes to life” in the presence of otherness – not only the obvious foreignness of America and France but also the more problematic, more insidious foreignness of Italy; in other words, Montalbano’s Sicily comes to life in death – and not only in the deaths of the victims of political corruption and bourgeois machinations that populate the texts but also in that of the text, at that point where the living text itself becomes conscious of its textness, its being-for-the-reader.

The move into the text expresses the eddies caused where two bodies of water meet. The shape of water in such places foams under tension. As the quote from The Times on the first unnumbered page of the book notes, the Montalbano series is “funny and ebulliently atmospheric”. These bubbles, however, as we Anglophones read on, transitioning from the outer to inner layers, are smoothed for our consumption: as the New York Times puts it, “[t]his savagely funny police procedural proves that sardonic laughter is a sound that translates ever so smoothly into English”. This joint praise for the vigorous and witty writer and the translator who savours but also captures him continues through the peritext as the publishers themselves describe Camilleri as “one of Italy’s most famous contemporary writers” and an inhabitant of Rome, thereby absorbing him into a less peripheral Italian context, while Stephen Sartarelli’s translation is boosted by his status as a poet living in France, and thus an exported exporter and a pre-hybridised smoother of foreign text.

The Opening of the Text

When we arrive at the first numbered page – page 3 – we have already turned five pages. The opening pages of the diegesis proper take us into the text smoothly but ostensibly against the principal movement of translation, which like Sartrean consciousness and textuality, is outwards. In its simplest terms, translation is already double: both a praxis (the act of translating) and a product (the translated text). Walter Benjamin’s understanding of the way in which a text calls for translation is predicated on yet another understanding of it, which is as a mode; and “[t]o comprehend it as a mode one must go back to the original, for that contains the law governing the translation: its translatability” (1968, p. 70). As has been noted elsewhere, this return to the original is in fact a study of textuality itself, which is to say, the text’s tendency to project beyond its own limits (Rolls 2013, p. 189-91). This is an understanding of originality under tension, of textual identity cloven between textness, the way in which a text is recognisably itself, and textuality, which is the animation of self as and in otherness (Still & Worton 1993, pp. 4-6). This problematic is described as follows by Andrew Benjamin in his study of the ambiguity in translation:

It is not enough merely to assert that translation occurs. Nor is it enough to argue that any one translation breaks the hold of an original context. The reason why context does not determine either a work’s meaning or predict the forms of its translation is that decontextualization – understood as either interpretation or translation – releases a work’s potentiality for decontextualization. (2012, p. 44-45)

Translatability in this sense expresses the necessary tendency of a text’s failure to be inherently.

This transition from essential space to the battleground of existential reality is staged in the opening sentence of The Shape of Water, in which “the courtyard of Splendour”, whose capital S evokes not only the proper name of a company but also the abstract values of verse poetry, is immediately and starkly reified when we learn, in that same sentence, that this company is “under government contract to collect trash in the town of Vigàta” (Camilleri 2004, p. 3). If the text can be considered French here, it is performing the prose-poetic trauma of Baudelaire’s Paris rather than the nostalgic contemplations of Simenon’s Maigret. Poetry, and here one might think of Greco-Roman antiquity in place of Baudelaire’s Venus, suffers the satanic pull of prosaicisation and is, quite literally, dumped in the street. The shape-giving edge of The Shape of Water, in other words, is an expression of double-movement (Parisian then, but only in the sense of a Paris always already exported, as in Baudelaire’s famous prose poem of the same name, “Any where out of the world”, torn between itself as locus of poetic Meaning and host of urban life and contingency). And the paradox continues when the “ecological agents” (qualified surveyors who have followed the collapse of Splendour into debasing euphemism) are despatched into a new pastoral tradition. The “Pasture”, we learn, is named after a goatherd but is now home to immigrants (“the crowds of black and not-so-black Senegalese, Algerians, Tunisians and Libyans” [Camilleri 2004, p. 4]), prostitution and industrial waste. Above all, it is a limen: “It was a broad tract of Mediterranean brush on the outskirts of town that stretched almost as far as the shore” (Camilleri 2004, p. 4). Thus, this space that gives shape to the text, whose limits it embodies and whose title is The Shape of Water, is itself shaped by water.  

While the title is not explained overtly until the widow of Luparello, the novel’s principal corpse, tells Montalbano the story of her childhood friend’s attempt to discover the shape of water by filling various vessels and the explanation that she gave him (that water does not have any shape and “takes the shape you give it” [Camilleri 2004, p. 154]), the covert, liminal embodiment of this story en abyme shapes it by simultaneously seeing it from the opposite perspective, that is, of a space itself shaped by water. The first layers of the text therefore package its central core, its would-be authentic self, its truth, as another, opposed truth, the way it is seen from the outside. This story within a story is central therefore to The Shape of Water’s translatability, its return to an original source that is always already also a movement out, towards and beyond the surface. Interestingly, Luparello’s widow couches her story enigmatically: to explain her metaphorical description of the way her husband’s death has been packaged for consumption by the media, she simply states: “I’m not Sicilian; I was born in Grosseto” (Camilleri 2004, p. 154). In this way, her story of the shape of water is not a metaphor for falsified evidence, but is also, from the outset, a metaphor for translation – or rather a metonym, since this tale within a tale also tells of, and stands for, her own translation across water.

Encircled metonymically within the Pasture lie the ruins of a chemical works. In order to exclude wandering immigrants from the factory, “a high wall had been built all around it, above which the old structures still soared, corroded by weather, neglect and sea salt, looking more and more like architectures designed by Gaudi under the influence of hallucinogens” (Camilleri 2004, p. 4-5). These walls function liminally, too, with regard to the reader: they suggest a view inside the novel, proleptically signalling the keys to the mystery (it is within these walls that Montalbano will find his most significant clues), but also stand as a barrier to further progress. And, of course, they again suggest translation: of Vigàta remapped onto Barcelona and of reality hallucinogenically refocused.

In addition to the external forces of globalisation, and specifically Americanisation, that litter the Pasture, in the form of Coca-Cola cans, and its adjoining streets (Via Lincoln and Viale Kennedy, which lead eventually to Cortile Eisenhower and Vicolo Roosevelt), translation is also used at this liminal juncture to define Sicily in relation to mainland Italy. For, displaced and errant though they may be, the immigrants and prostitutes (not forgetting the “Third World women, transvestites, transsexuals, Neapolitan faggots, Brazilian viados” [Camilleri 2004, p. 7]) who exist on these margins are more domesticated than the forces of order brought in to control them:

[A]ll the Piedmontese mama’s boys and beardless Friulian conscripts who just the night before had enjoyed the crisp, fresh air of their mountains suddenly found themselves painfully short of breath, huffing in their temporary lodgings, in towns that stood barely a yard above sea level, among people who spoke an incomprehensible dialect consisting not so much of words as of silences, indecipherable movements of eyebrows, imperceptible puckerings of the facial wrinkles. They adapted as best they could, thanks to their young age, and were given a helping hand by the residents of Vigàta themselves, who were moved to pity by the foreign boys’ lost, bewildered looks. (Camilleri 2004, p. 6)

As we read these lines we realise that this simultaneous foreignisation of the domestic (the bewilderment of the Italian soldiers) and domestication of the foreign (the efforts to communicate with them made, ironically or otherwise, by the locals) pertain to our liminal situation as readers.[1] We are at the beginning of the first Montalbano novel; we are entering this territory as foreigners, and the translation, heralded as a smoothing of Camilleri’s abrasive language, serves to remind us of our status. There is a distinctly foreignising flavour to Sartarelli’s English syntax, which it is up to us to adapt in pursuit of familiarity with Montalbano’s Sicily; and yet, we are also reminded, by the translatability of the original, here staged as an awareness of self in translation, that to be lost in translation is to have an authentic Italian experience.

The Shape of Translation

The widow Luparello’s interrogation of the shape of water, which stands as an internal mise en abyme of the novel’s paratextual edge, recalls J. L. Austin’s philosophical reflections on the real shape of a cat. In his theorisation of thresholds Manuel Aguirre shifts Austin’s focus away from reality and onto the idea of shape, and away from the feline towards the more obviously problematic form of a limen. The type of threshold that best answers Austin’s question, Aguirre concludes, is the “shoreline-type”:

The shape of a cat, like that of a shoreline, constitutes an open-ended set of possibilities which are – even in its state of placid immobility – framed in time and so exist as an ongoing event. This observation may provide one reason for the often elusive nature of the limen: seen as a shoreline-threshold, the limen is not only a site where changes take place, but itself a changing site. (2004, p. 14)

As a space that signals and effects change, but which also defines a shape, this shoreline-type of liminality recalls the negating strip that Sartre labelled nothingness, with its paradoxical mix of tangible inexistence and intangible existence; but, insofar as it combines physical space (the transformed) with a praxis (of transformation), it also captures something of Benjamin’s translatability:

It is impossible to define the shoreline of a beach as anything other than a shifting strip with ever-shifting contours which make it, if not quite a surface, at least much more than a mere line. It is a one-dimensional line which nevertheless “fills” an (always changing) two-dimensional space. […] In this model the limen provides a genuine third site which, it is worth noting, does not simply constitute a different space but exists as the conjunction or encounter of the other two. It is another type of “place that is not a place”, a site that becomes an activity. (Aguirre 2004, p. 14, emphasis original)

When mapped onto theorisations of translatability, the liminality of the shape of Austin’s cat recalls the will to mould pure language out of what Benjamin called linguistic flux. What gives shape to pure language (or the real cat) is translation. For Andrew Benjamin pure language defines a tension between, on the one hand, something contained within language and, on the other, something that cannot coincide with any one language:

[I]t is neither reducible to any one natural language nor is it simply linguistic. Resisting these reductions is what allows “pure language” to figure within language. The nature of separation does not involve mere distance nor an eventual form of connection. The separation is an allowing, i.e. is a set-up that creates possibilities and is to be thought of in terms of production and therefore in relation to potentiality. (Benjamin 2012, p. 45-46)

Like Sartrean freedom, pure language is a potential realised in action; so too, translatability is a potential that is realised in translation, even if it does not depend on the corporeal expression of the latter as activity in order to be inherent, as virtuality, in an original text.

Michel Ballard emphasises the divine aspect of the translator’s task in Walter Benjamin’s essay, a kind of will to perfection (2007, p. 255). As an attempt to give body to pure language, translation’s prime concern is not bogged down in the mechanics of any one language, as is the original work at its inception; instead, it creates a situation in which the original is carried into a foreign language as an echo. To this end therefore, as Ballard notes, a literal form of translation is required, one that favours foreignisation over domestication (2007, p. 257). And yet, what we have in The Shape of Water is a liminal text, conscious of its representation and incarnation of translatability. This will to foreignisation and the divine is always already grounded in its opposite. Angels in Camilleri’s work, as in Baudelaire’s prose poems, fall and stand, impossibly, in streets that themselves simultaneously present the mundane and aspire to the ethereal. And so it is that the end of the conversation between Montalbano and the widow Luparello on the shape of water ends with a liminal figuring of the divine: “At that moment the door to the library opened, and an angel appeared” (Camilleri 2004, p. 154).

Intimacy and Inoculation

This angel (“Montalbano at that moment didn’t know how else to define him” [Camilleri 2004, p. 155]) is Luparello’s nephew. His liminal appearance at his uncle’s wake prefigures, quite literally, his fall from grace. His love of his uncle will turn out to have been physical as well as avuncular; it was he who had shared his uncle’s secret love-nest at Capo Massaria and in his arms that his uncle had died. This angel will turn out to have been at the origins of the whole investigation and will die in turn at its end. This movement from grace, more obviously satanic and Baudelairean, is mirrored chiastically by the movement from the base to the divine of the angel’s counterpart – Ingrid Sjostrom.

Although not dissimilar to Luparello’s nephew physically – both are strikingly tall, slim and blond – Ingrid’s perfection is that, according to Montalbano when they first meet, of “utter female” (Camilleri 2004, p. 173). She too, it transpires, shared the love-nest at Capo Massaria, but not with Luparello himself. Her relationship with him, after a brief initial fling, had been truly avuncular, and one based on pure communication. As she describes it, “we did become friends, true friends, like I had never had before with a man, not even in my country. I could tell him anything, anything at all” (Camilleri 2004, p. 181-82). This relationship stands in contrast to that which she has with her father-in-law, whose relentless sexual demands on her she seeks to contain by taking him to Capo Massaria. The house overlooking the sea is thus a nexus of two incestuous, or quasi-incestuous, relationships, where an angel falls from grace and a woman will demonstrate aspirations to the divine.

For, like translation, Ingrid embodies pure communication. She alone, amid all the generalised figures of translation – in the sense of transfer, movement across a threshold – stands for translation in the specific sense of movement from one language to another. She immediately feels at ease with Salvo: she is familiar with him (she calls him “Salvo” while he calls her “Mrs Cardamone”) in the way of a foreigner unused to the grammatical mechanics of the formality of the foreign language but also of one who is simply at ease in that foreign space, including in its language. Indeed, her foreignness allows truth to emerge all the more purely from her acts of language, as becomes clear when she goes through the motions of covering her tracks: “The woman began speaking, mechanically. Being a foreigner didn’t help her to lie” (Camilleri 2004, p. 175). And when Montalbano drives her to Capo Massaria, her nerves snap. Despite his attempt to avoid any lingering in liminal space – he throws the car at full speed with a last-minute turn of the wheel into the driveway of the house – she jumps from the car and runs, finally twisting her ankle and falling: “When he was beside her, Ingrid, who had been unable to get back up, interrupted her Swedish monologue, incomprehensible but clearly expressing fear and rage” (Camilleri 2004, p. 178). Here, then, Ingrid’s “linguistic flux” moulds pure language.

Ingrid’s literal fall and her literal linguistic break-down are rather the opposite of what they first appear to be. In fact, she functions as a metonym for translation, in the case of the English version at least, inoculating the reader against a translation that is, I should argue, wilfully stilted and foreignising. This inoculation, as a result of which we accept and become familiar with the foreign, is enacted most specifically in her brief resistance against the crossing of the threshold into her secret (but shared) space, her haven of intimacy (that two people share with others rather than each other). Montalbano completes the domestic aspect of the translation paradox by taking the injured Ingrid back to his place. Against the reader’s expectations, reinforced by Ingrid’s taking responsibility for the decision (“I told you it would end up this way, didn’t I?” [Camilleri 2004, p. 183]), their physical relationship remains platonic: he applies salve to her ankle, which forms an infinitesimal barrier between his skin (it deforms his name – Salvo – but only just) and hers, and bandages it, all the while conscious and made the object of consciousness of her body:

When she moved, her minuscule panties peeped out and so did one breast, which looked as if it had been painted by a painter who understood women. The nipple seemed to be looking around, curious about the unfamiliar surroundings. Once again Montalbano understood that Ingrid had no seductive intentions, and he was grateful to her for it. (Camilleri 2004, p. 190)

Of course, this scene of an act of pure communication made flesh is immediately misunderstood by Montalbano’s infatuated colleague, Anna, who walks in unannounced. Explanation to his fellow Sicilian is contemplated, deemed impossible and rejected as unnecessary.

This scene is in a number of ways an act of living-on. The importance of the relationship between the Inspector and Ingrid, and its key role as metonym of translation and translatability, is set in this first Montalbano mystery. They become “former lovers” without ever having had sex, in much the same way that the text embraces translation in its original structure. The shoreline that contains it, packages it for what might be considered “a work’s afterlife” as envisaged by Walter Benjamin (A. Benjamin 2012, p. 46). As Ballard puts it, “translation is envisaged [by Benjamin] at once as a continuation of the work (in its life and its survival) and as an intimate relationship between languages” (2007, p. 256, my translation). Intimacy, therefore, and the coming together of skin on skin are in The Shape of Water, and those Montalbano novels that come after it, self-consciously liminal encounters, where the foreign is domesticated and the domestic foreignised. And Montalbano’s purity does not only solve murders or protect fine cuisine; also, and above all, it articulates pure language, packaging it for reincarnation under the sign of translatability.



Aguirre, M 2004, ‘Austin’s Cat, and Other Observations Towards a Theory of Thresholds’, in N. Bredendick (ed.), Mapping the Threshold: Essays in Liminal Analysis, The Gateway Press (Studies in Liminality and Literature, 4), Madrid, pp. 9-32.

Ballard, M 2007, De Ciceron à Benjamin: traducteurs, traductions, réflexions, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, Villeneuve d’Ascq.

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Benjamin, W 1968, ‘The Task of the Translator’, in Illuminations, trans. H. Zohn, ed. H. Arendt, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, pp. 69-82.

Bredendick, N 2004, ‘Introduction’, in N. Bredendick (ed.), Mapping the Threshold: Essays in Liminal Analysis, The Gateway Press (Studies in Liminality and Literature, 4), Madrid, pp. 1-7.

Camilleri, A 2004, The Shape of Water, trans. S. Sartarelli, Picador, London. (Originally published in 1994 as La forma dell’acqua, Sellerio, Palermo.)

Derrida, J 1979, ‘Living On’, in H. Bloom, P. De Man, J. Derrida, G.H. Hartman & J.H. Miller, Deconstruction and Criticism, The Seabury Press, New York, pp. 75-176.

Derrida, J 1988, Limited Inc, trans. S. Weber, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois.

Genette, G 1987, Seuils, Éditions du Seuil, Paris.

Rolls, A 2013, ‘Intertextuality as Translatability: Regimenting Space (for French Translation) in Barry Maitland’s La Malcontenta’, Australian Journal of French Studies, vol 50 no 2, pp. 189-205.

Still, J & Worton M 1993, ‘Introduction’, in J. Still & M. Worton (eds), Textuality and Sexuality: Reading Theories and Practices, Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp. 1-68.

Vennarucci, C 2003, ‘The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri’ [Book Review], Accessed 26 March 2016

Venuti, L 1995, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation, Routledge, New York.




[1] Foreignisation refers to the way in which a translation privileges the original, source text, including its syntax, over the target language; domestication, on the other hand, privileges the target language of the translated text, including its syntax, over the original language of the source text. These terms were first employed by Lawrence Venuti (1995).


Alistair Rolls is Associate Professor of French Studies at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He is currently President of the Australian Society for French Studies and co-leader, with Jesper Gulddal, of Detective Fiction on the Move, a University of Newcastle strategic research network. His recent publications include Paris and the Fetish: Primal Crime Scenes (Rodopi 2014), If I Say If: The Poems and Short Stories of Boris Vian (University of Adelaide Press 2014), which he co-edited with Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby, and The Private Investigator (Intellect 2016), which he co-edited with Rachel Franks.


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The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction
Vol 2 No 1 2016
Editors: Barbara Pezzotti and Brigid Maher