literary translation

What is Literary Translation?:

Literary translation consistent of the translation of literary works such as books, poetry, short stories, songs, plays and religious text. Literary translation is considered a literary achievement on its own due to the fact that translators oftentimes have to find a way to convert text, content and emotion when there is no direct translation from the source language into the target language. Literary translation allows for the spread of concepts, art and knowledge from language to language and not just any translator has the ability to produce such works of art. Literary translators take their time sifting slowly through the content to ensure each word choice and the essence of each sentence is accurately conveyed, this in many cases has led the translation of literary works to be better than the original. Rhythm, sound and registrar are taken into account and strategically applied to sentence structure. The goal is to capture the original text, however it oftentimes evolves into a life of its own.

Daniel Hahn, director of the British Centre for Literary Translation said, “García Márquez has been misquoted often as saying the translation of ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ was better than the original — I think he actually said it was more accurate than the original. That distinction, I believe, is very telling.”   

Literary Translators on the Art of Translation:

Lara Vergnaud, English Translator of Mohand Fellag, Joy Sorman, Marie-Monique Robin, Ahmed Bouanani, and Scholastique Mukasonga, Among Others:

Translation is a curious craft. You must capture the voice of an author writing in one language and bear it into another, yet leave a faint trace that the transfer ever took place. (The translator extraordinaire Charlotte Mandell calls this transformation “Something Else but Still the Same.”)

Idra Novey, English translator of Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H., Among Others:

I’ve found that translation begins with the prefix “trans” for a reason. Like transcendence and transformation, it requires an acceptance of progressing with uncertainty, which is essential for authors who want to write around and over what’s currently expected from a novel. The prefix “trans” comes from the Latin word for “across.” . . . In a translation, playing around with style is everything. The author provides the plot and characters. The opening and closing scenes already lie there, waiting. All the translator has to do is figure out what music, tone, and cadence will recreate what makes that author’s delivery of those scenes worth translating.

Literary Translation; An Art to Be Respected and Recognized:

Previously mentioned Daniel Hahn used the winnings from the International Dublin literary award to establish the Translators Association’s first translation award which went to Svetlana Alexievich, for the book Second-Hand Time which was translated by Bela Shayevich and edited by Jacques Testard. The main goal of the award is to acknowledge the work of new translators as well as the editors who work alongside of them. Literary translation is a well sculpted skill that requires immense knowledge, creativity and the ability to capture and rebirth a concept previously established. The art should be well respected and recognized for its contribution to the literary world.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment