Intersemiotic Bestiary

Translating El libro de los Seres Imaginarios

Mariana Salimena 1  and João Queiroz 1
  • 1 Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil


The phenomenon of intersemiotic translation from literature (source-sign) to graphic illustration (target-sign) is well known and has been exhaustively analyzed. Jakobson (2000: 114) defines the phenomenon as “transmutation⁄ or interpretation of verbal signs by means of signs of nonverbal sign systems”. This paper presents an intersemiotic translation of El libro de los Seres Imaginarios by Jorge Luis Borges, more specifically the chapter that describes a bestiary of Chinese fauna. Written in collaboration with Margarita Guerrero, El libro was first published in 1957 with the title Manual de Zoología Fantástica; later it was expanded and republished with the title El Libro de los Seres Imaginarios (“The Book of Imaginary Beings”). In this paper, we identify some formal aspects of the literary source-sign to be considered most relevant. Afterwards, we submit those aspects to graphic recreations directed by the construction of fantastic characters in the aesthetic domain of pixel art.

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