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Literary Translation Services

Here at Transcription City, we pride ourselves on providing expert translation services, transcription services, subtitling services and closed captioning services. Our translation services include audio translation services, video translation services, document translation services and foreign language transcription services. With that in mind, we thought we’d focus on our literary translation services, the challenges of translating literature and hear from one of our literary translation experts.

Translation services for books

Found in Translation – Literary Translation Services

The other day I read the book, “My invented Country” by the Chilean writer Isabel Allende, author of the well-known novel „The House of Spirits” that was also made into a movie in the 1990s. In the book she describes that although she grew up in Chile, then moved to Venezuela for some years before settling in the United States, she still writes her novels in Spanish, her mother tongue. 

That rather fascinated me, because I suddenly realised that I had read some of her books in German at first, but later switched to reading them in English. Therefore I have read some of her brilliant books in not only one, but two languages that they were not originally written in. Someone behind the scenes translated them. The names of these translators are usually mentioned on the first few introductory pages of a book, but don’t really get the credit that they deserve, I think. It must be a mammoth task to translate famous novels from one language to another, keeping the same style and tone and captivating the audiences in the same magical way that the original did.

Literary Translation and The Challenges of Translating Literature

Sometimes there is the unexpected though. I have always been a fan of the longest running German television series “Lindenstrasse”, in which there was a recurrent character of a tramp called Harry. He had been in the soap since its start in 1985. Only after the death of the actor playing the role in 2015, did I found out that not only he was the heir to the renowned German publishers Rowohlt, but that he had also been an award-winning translator of fiction. His most notable work was the translation of the “Winnie the Pooh” by A A Milne into German, as well as works by such greats such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Leonard Cohen. He even went one step further and would tour the country reading from the books that he translated. I found this fascinating, especially the fact that the role he played in the soap had been sketching a very different picture of the person behind it.

I guess maybe we should all pay a little more attention to the people that make it possible to read books in a language that we can understand, rather than keeping to the original one. I am sure it is a difficult job to do that, but probably a very rewarding one too. So next time you start a new book that may have written by an author in a different language first, make the effort to find out the name of the translator before you start immersing yourself into it.

Our Literary Translation Services

If you would like more information about our literary translation services or would like to discuss some of the pitfalls and challenges of literary translation, why not get in touch today? We are available seven days a week and always happy to help. We also provide transcription services, multilingual transcription services, subtitling services, closed captioning services and note taking services.

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Transcriptionist and Virtual Assistant. View all posts by Samantha