Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Magdalena Perkowska

Committee Members

Paul Julian Smith

Elena Martínez

Esther Allen

Subject Categories

Latin American Languages and Societies


translations, Latin American literature, Argentina


This dissertation has three parts. First, I explore the ways in which word intersects with image in several recent texts by the contemporary Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec, whose oeuvre is replete with verbal descriptions of visual artifacts. Second, as a complement to the critical essay, I present my English translation of Chejfec's Baroni: un viaje (2007), a novel featuring the Venezuelan artist Rafaela Baroni, whose extraordinary wood carvings of Virgins, saints and other figures are described in key passages. Third, as a bridge between these two parts, I reflect on the related critical discourses of ekphrasis and translation and on the task of translating Baroni: un viaje.

Chejfec's engagement with the visual as both an essayist and novelist has received little critical attention to date. In the first part of my study, I consider recent essays and blog postings in which he discusses the problematics of the word-image encounter, both in his own work and in that of others. I contend that Chejfec's privileging of the word and of the artifice of writing affirms W.J.T. Mitchell's concept of ekphrastic hope. By examining ekphrastic passages in Baroni: un viaje, I study the effects of the ekphrastic encounter in the novel and move beyond the notion that ekphrasis represents a spatial fix or halt in the narrative.

In the second part, I offer my English translation of Baroni: un viaje. In the third part, I discuss the affinities between the critical discourses surrounding ekphrasis and translation. I conclude with a Translator's Note that posits that the cleft that splits one of Baroni's wooden carvings, described at the novel's outset, can be understood as a powerful trope for the gap separating word from image, and the original Spanish of the novel from my English translation. I argue that although translation implies rupture, one hopes for engagement with the other in the space such a translation opens.