Literary translation: 4 obligatory conditions for commercial success and success with readers
Literary translation is more an art than a simple ‘technical’ recreation of the structure of the original text. Not every translator possesses sufficient qualifications for such work. Nor is every translation bureau equipped to offer its clients the service of literary translations.
Is literary translation as simple as it appears at first glance?
Translation of artistic literature is notable for heightened complexity compared, for example, with technical, legal or medical translations. Here the important thing is to convey to the reader the inimitable atmosphere of the work and of the time when it was written, to follow closely the style of the author. This is essential insofar as precisely the author’s inimitable language distinguishes one writer from a multitude of others.
Whether or not the reader accepts the work depends on the mastery of the translator. We know foreign literature only through translations – and for this reason it is very important that the translation be performed by a professional who has experience working with literary texts. You will surely agree that it is one thing to understand the play of words in another language and something quite different to convey that to the reader so that he is inspired by it.
The success of a literary translation fully depends on the qualifications of the translator, who must possess two main qualities. Firstly, he knows not only the foreign language but also his own native language and can navigate the expressive mediums of both, knowing how to use them. In the final analysis, the key virtue of any such translation is how it reads. Secondly, the translator must know the cultural peculiarities of the country of the original work. He must know how to explain this to the reader in an accessible manner.
We can name 4 obligatory conditions which must be met by a successful literary translation
Condition one ― precision
The skill of the translator is to preserve all the peculiarities of the author’s speech, without in any way distorting the source text, without making explanations or in any way adding something of his own. But at the same time, a good translator fully preserves the unique linguistic play of the original author.
Condition two ― literary competence
The structure of a literary text translated into Russian must correspond grammatically and stylistically to the norms of the Russian language. In many instances the word order in the original sentence is completely changed around – and the mastery of the translator consists in preserving the literary form while adapting it to his native stylistic constructions.
Condition three ― conciseness
Knowing how to express a profound thought in a brief phrase is a great art. Translation of a literary text is not the free transposition of the original. Rather it is a precise ‘copy’ of the source text.
Condition four ― clarity.
A text that is easy to understand, the ‘light hand’ of the translator, is the guaranty that at a minimum the reader will be satisfied with it. A translation in which there are no complex word constructions, no double entendre, no solecisms, in which everything is clear and simple – that is the work of a real professional.
We are ready to discuss all this with you right now ― to answer any questions, to go over the special conditions of the work, to calculate the delivery time and price for performing the order. Send us an email to ― firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us: +7(495)585-10-69.
Photo of Alexander (member of the Union of Russian Writers, winner of a literary competition)
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