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The art of compromise: introduction to the problems of literary translation

13 April 2021
3.00pm – 4.30pm AEST
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Photo of the presenter: Sofya Yunusova

Presenter: Sofya Yunusova

Literary translation occupies a special place in Translation Studies. The formal and thematic idiosyncrasies of literary discourse, its ambiguity and interpretability, the need to mediate between two systems of socio-cultural phenomena and practices and, in many cases, two historical epochs, make literary translation extremely complex and problematic.

While it is common scholarly practice today to analyse the intricacies of literary translation within a specific language pair, it is useful, for both theoretical and educational purposes, to identify and classify those difficulties that arise in any act of literary translation, independently of the two languages at play. Together with identifying and discussing this series or, to put it better, system of problems of literary translation, the current paper focuses on a specific group of difficulties, broadly defined as culture-specific difficulties.

A detailed analysis of these challenges, illustrated on examples from several celebrated literary works and their translations into English, Chinese, Russian, among others, is followed by additional illustrations from the English translation of a short story by one of the most famous Post-War Italian neorealist women writers, Natalia Ginzburg. 

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