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Translation in Literature: Old and New Approaches That Should Be Implemented!

Literary Translation is a tricky service. It takes a certain level of artistic sense from the translator to be considered good or excellent. This is definitely the most debated and frowned upon translation service in the world and has been in existence for decades longer than our usual translation services. There are some etiquettes and traditions that must be implemented before you can even begin working on a literary translation.

“Where literature exists, translation exists. Joined at the hip, they are absolutely inseparable, and, in the long run, what happens to one happens to the other. Despite all the difficulties the two have faced, sometimes separately, usually together, they need and nurture each other, and their long-term relationship, often problematic but always illuminating, will surely continue for as long as they both shall live.” - Edith Grossman

Literature and Translation have had a love/hate relationship since the very beginning of the trend. It all began when we wanted to read more quality literature from all over the world and, lo and behold, the English Translation Services were born. Every year, hundreds of books are translated in English for the better understanding of almost all the world. As the demand for the literary translated works increased some approaches were made that were considered standard all over the world. However, some new approaches were made and now they have become a part of the literary translation services.

This side of the translation services is based a lot on your expression. It is very hard to find a translator who matches the original writer’s expression, but it is not impossible. Most of the time, translators fixate on bringing clarity to the text rather than choosing the words that are closest to the ones used by the original author. For an avid reader and literature lover, translated works lack the “fun” of finding the clarity on their own. Some people might even feel robbed of the rush that comes with discovering things on their own, deciphering meanings that are meant to be found by the reader and his own perception.

So while keeping everything under consideration, I have come up with some must haves in every literary translation. This will keep the translator, the original author and the reader happy. Take a look at them and see what they can do for the literary translation sales.

  • Pay special attention to the plot twists. Remember that every single paragraph of the novel is going to hold something indigenous to the overall plot (if confused, check the Harry Potter series).
  • Remember to add everything the author wrote, that is a MUST!
  • Keep the feel, mood and atmosphere of the novel in your mind. You will have to mimic it as best as you can. That can make or break the novel in the translated version.
  • Never, ever, ever show off! You have a good vocabulary? That is good, great even, but keep the original text in mind because you are providing a translation (an exact translation) of the words written by the author. There is no need for the fancy words if the text does not need it.

These are simple things, but they have a huge impact on the novel and your overall service. So try to stay as true to the text as you can and happy translating.