A Multilingual Monologue: Alexander Lenard’s Self-Translated Autobiography in Three Languages


  • Helga Lénárt-Cheng Saint Marys College of California




Alexander Lenard, Lénárd Sándor, self-translation, autobiography, proper names.


The paper investigates the question of self-translation in the work of Alexander Lenard (Lénárd Sándor). Lenard, a polyglot writer and translator, rewrote his autobiography three times, in three different languages (in German, English, and Hungarian). This process of self-translation created a fascinating web of autobiographical texts, which invite a multiscopic reading. Following in the footsteps of 18th century parodists, Lenard challenges a great number of protocols associated with life-writing. The most important among these is the authority of the proper name as a guarantee of autobiographical authenticity. To challenge the authority of the proper name Lenard purposely multiplies his own authorial identities, for example by claiming that “A. L. is only a pseudonym.” Thus, the word ‘self-plagiarism’ acquires in Lenard’s case a double meaning, implying both that the author plagiarizes his own text and that he plagiarizes his own self. The paper explains why existing theories of self-translation cannot be applied to Lenard’s texts, and why his unique case can enrich future studies of this topic.






Thematic Cluster: Teaching and Translating Hungarian Language, Literature and Culture [Part II]