I'm a translator and I'm proud: how literary translators view authors and authorship

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This article investigates the relationship of literary translators with ‘their’ authors and with the source text. The issue has been dealt with from different theoretical perspectives. I will focus instead on the practitioners’ own views, setting these against the scholarly voices and looking for possible similarities and discrepancies. In 1998, Simeoni stated that ‘the more vocal calls for translational emancipation’ had originated not among the translators themselves, but among ‘peripheral observers’, such as translator scholars. Does this claim still hold true, or are translators nowadays more concerned about emancipation, more prone to claim ownership and/or authorship than previous generations? A first glance at the results of a survey among literary translators in Scandinavia seems to indicate that they are not: most respondents apparently do not perceive the translated text as ‘their text’. The free text comments, however, reveal a more differentiated picture. My claim is that to understand literary translators’ ethical stance vis-à-vis the text they are working on, and to give them the rightful credit for their work, we need to revise some of the traditional dichotomies within translation studies, such as creativity versus fidelity, and take a more nuanced stance towards the notions of ownership and authorship.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalPerspectives - Studies in Translation Theory and Practice
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)675-688
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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