Bergson: Translating Duration (PAMLA special session)

November 7, 2024 - November 10, 2024
Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association

Palm Springs
United States

View the Call For Papers

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


In accordance with the conference theme, “Translation in Action,” the work of French philosopher Henri Bergson is more than relevant. Bergson’s work was written in French and translations are often offered with notes about the richness of his words and potential loss of meaning. Questions of translation surround and even permeate Bergson philosophy.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927 “in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented,” Bergson drew on descriptive and visual models to demonstrate complex ideas. He was a pioneering philosopher showing interest in film, utilizing the flow of moving images to explain concepts of memory and relativity. Questions of translation surround and even permeate Bergson philosophy.

In addition to the questions related to translating Bergson’s French into other languages, on a deeper and more complex layer, there are questions of translating the inner experience of consciousness, the “ineffable” immediate feeling involved in each moment as having a singularly unique nuance. Bergson's point is clear in the case of the peculiarity of each sui generis effort and idea of an artist. No less rich is every moment of our own inner life, even if we lack the words to express it, or the attentiveness to appreciate it. As poet Paul Valery said, "The most powerful and unprecedented images and metaphors obeyed [Bergson's] desire to reconstruct, in the consciousness of others, the discoveries he made in his own, and the results of his internal experiments." Bergson makes translation a fundamental goal of all philosophy, even when communicating in one's own language.

This session invites papers that explore the many facets of Bergson’s philosophy especially those related to the conference theme.

Panel hosts:

John Robert Bagby

Nan Darbous Marthaller

Submit abstracts here:

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.