27. Literature as viewed from a translator’s perspective
Literature should be considered knowing that there is a circular relations between writer – work of art – reader – writer. Different works of literature should be regarded differently.
- Sport stories can be considered narrative, pure & simple if we are interested in events. But the translator should know that not a single event might be overlooked. To find a clue we should pay attention to a slightest detail.
- Fiction may be regarded as an exhibition of character.
- We can approach a work of literature as an exhibition of manners. In this regard it’s a panorama of contemporary life. E.g. Walter Scott is a great master in the sphere of describing manners of this or that time.
- A piece of fiction may be seen from the point of view of certain philosophy of life (image of people guided by it).
- We may approach a work of fiction with an intense desire to watch the author’s every turn of phrase, his personal style. It’s a difficult task to translate different writers & poets & preserve their individual style, because one soon gets accustomed to it. It’s not easy to switch over to the other.
All these interests are not on the same level, because all the authors are different. To translate a work of fiction or poetry the translator should always know what the main approach is. The strong point of the author should be made vivid. Even the biography can give us the necessary information.
A work of art is not independent from the author. Works of fiction & poetry have life of their own. Even in the process of creation it may behave unpredictably. E.g. Pushkin was very much surprised by the behavior of Tatiana.
Reader presents a great challenge for the translator. He is a judge of quality. The reader is every individual, who identifies himself with what is written in this or that book. Sometimes the writer shapes his work according to the taste & worldview of the reader, & sometimes the writer does whatever he can to improve the taste & worldview of the reader. But it’s always the reader who determines the value of the book. Every translator should approach the issue of reader from 2 interrelated angles:
1. The contemporary reader.
2. The modern reader (if the book belongs to the previous ages).
The translator should see the difference between them & their appreciation of the work of fiction.
ANALYSIS COMES FIRST.
The translator should investigate the purpose of the writer, determine his main qualities & compare the work of this writer with the works of his contemporaries & writers who followed him. It’s done to see the degree of writer’s originality. Then the translator should analyze the background, because every writer is a representative of some period of time, which to some extends shapes his outlook. Then the translator should analyze the influence of the reader, writer’s imagination & the way it works (it brings an ideal). So the translator can analyze his works from the point of view of social being & human being. This is preliminary analysis. Then comes the analysis of the book itself to decide what should be preserved & what disposed off, to see what gains & losses are & how the translator can compensate for them.
Then the translator should analyze a work of art from the psychological prospective (to understand the effect it was meant to produce upon the reader.
Then the translator should analyze the work of art as a thing of Beauty every writer comes to treat a world as beauty, which can be manifested in the language he uses. The translator should determine the significance of every word. Here the aesthetic aspect overlaps linguistic.
The classification of literature
The literature may be classified so:
1. Epic. It’s characterized by the action, which should be entire. The character should be distinguished & the episodes should easily arise from the main fable. But the main thing is that it renders life as truth that had happened to the character or to the author in the past & the author deals with it as with some clear- cut period of time in the past. Novel, short story, long story, essay.
2. Lyric. It’s a poem directly expressing the author’s thoughts & emotions. The direct appeal is the main thing that distinguishes the lyric from the epic. Ballade, ode, elegy, sonnet etc.
3. Drama. It’s letting one’s characters speak without any utterance from the author. Tragedy, comedy, family chronicle.
There are some genres that are present in one culture & absent in the other. We should look for approximations & find out if it is a SL or TL oriented translation.
Imagery – words & sentences that produce clear vivid mental pictures.
In literature the term has much more restricted meaning, referring to the use of figurative language. There are 2 types of figurative meaning: the effect, which changes the structure of language without affecting its meaning (rhyme) & the effect that does affect the meaning (metaphor, epithet, simile etc.).
During the past 2 or 3 decades the development in the fields of transformation of grammar, general & contrastive linguistic, semantics, the informational theory, anthropology, semiotics, psychology, & discourse analysis have exerted great influence on general translation theory, enabling this discipline to broaden the areas of investigation & to offer fresh insights into the concept of comparative analysis of linguistic & cultural systems. More attention has been paid to the translation process as such. Quite recently some new ideas have been promoted to develop the skill of literary translation & poetry in particular.
Prose fiction is not true to fact. Literature deals with generalized experience. Prose fiction is written to be read rather than to be performed. The events can run into different forms (satirical, gothic etc.). It’s possible to generalize some features of prose fiction as such.
1. Narrative technique. It’s all information, relating to the manipulation of the point of view in the work. It’s the choice of events & facts, the location of events & facts in time & space, the choice of order (chronological or logical).
2. Characterization. It’s information about characters, any indication that characters are changing or developing, significant new information about the characters. The character may be described by the author, by other characters, by his own actions & language. The character may be static.
3. Theme. It’s the moral problems, issues, raised for the character or for the reader or for both.
4. Plot. It’s an ordered, organized sequence of events & actions.
5. Style. As for prose fiction there are 2 types of style. Authorial style is related to the meaning in a general way. Talking about style, people usually mean Authorial style, in other words a way of writing that recognizably belongs to a particular writer. When we examine text style we need to examine linguistic choices, which are intrinsically connected with the meaning & the effect upon the reader. Areas like lexical & grammatical patterning, discourse coherence & cohesion, & figures of speech should be explored in details. Sometimes even a seemingly insignificant commonality can become important in interpretative terms.
Translation from one tongue to another is altogether too complicated & mysterious, & still it’s possible to distinguish the nature of fiction translation from the others. The translation of fiction deals not only with bilingual but also bicultural transference including the entire complex of emotions, associations, ideas, which intrinsically relate different nations’ languages to their lifestyles & traditions.
What is the core of fiction translation?
It involves exchange of social experience of individuals in the fictional world with readers in other cultures & societies. Both the social & the authorial factors are emphasized in the process of fiction translation. Therefore the reproduction of style is considered the core of translation of fiction. It’s also a difficult task to explore the style of a novel/short story & the message the author conveys about social life, human relationships etc.
Literature as viewed from a translator’s perspective
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27. Literature as viewed from a translator’s perspective