Les Belles Infidèles consists of a short story that has been translated and retranslated by more than 40 translators working in 15 different languages. The project is an exploration of the story's compounding mutation as the translators attempt to make it work in different languages and cultures.
The project is by artist Ethan Ham and it uses a short by author Benjamin Rosenbaum that was written specifically for this project.
The term “les belles infidèles” comes from a 17th century quip by Gilles Ménage in which he compared a set of translations to an acquaintance of his: beautiful but unfaithful. The phrase has come to express the tension between making a translation seem natural in the target language versus keeping it as close as possible to the original text.
The project’s source code is available under a GNU Affero General Public License (details below) and the original short story can be reused under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.