What is Literary Translation

Literary translation is working with a text in its original language to prepare a version in a new language. This work promotes broader reading and distribution of the work. In some cases—for instance, Gilgamesh, a work composed in ancient languages of the Middle East—translation is the only way the text is made available to general readers.

All but two of the works in Invitation to World Literature are translated from a language other than English. The two works in English, The God of Small Things andThings Fall Apart, have themselves become world literature in part through the many translations that have been made into other world languages. Next:

How to Translate Literary Works

Questions and Answers

Literary translation is an art involving the transposing and interpreting of creative works such as novels, short prose, poetry, drama, comic strips, and film scripts from one language and culture into another. It can also involve intellectual and academic works like psychology publications, philosophy and physics papers, art and literary criticism, and works of classical and ancient literature. Without literary translation, human thought and art would be devoid of the souls of great minds and books, spanning The Bible to Don Quixote to Freud and Einstein to Naguib Mahfouz and Orhan Pamuk. If translating literature and academia interests you, learning how to translate can be incredibly rewarding.


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