Participation in Literary Translation 1
“There are few efforts more conducive to humility than that of the translator trying to communicate an incommunicable beauty. Yet, unless we do try, something unique and never surpassed will cease to exist except in the libraries of a few inquisitive book lovers.” Many will disagree with this quotation by the American classicist and teacher, Edith Hamilton (1867-1963), herself the author of beautiful translations of Greek tragedies. They would argue that reading a translation is like looking at “the other side of a tapestry” (Cervantes): it is not difficult, but actually impossible and should therefore not be tried at home – or in tutorial. However, this (i.e. trying) is precisely what we are going to do in this course. The second half of the course will be in the form of translation workshops, led by one or two students who have prepared short, annotated translations of fiction, poetry or prose at home. Students are free in their choice of source language: English, Dutch, French, Chinese, Old English, Klingon… In the first six weeks of the course, we will explore some of the issues (like the one above) in literary translation that scholars in different times and cultures have asked themselves.
At the end of the course, students are aware of the challenges involved in literary translation. Furthermore, they are aware of its interdisciplinary nature and of the contributions made by translation theorists, stylisticians, literary scholars and philosophers.
Knowledge of stylistics; ability to apply one’s knowledge and understanding of stylistics in translating literary texts.
Mode of instruction
2-hour weekly seminar
Class paper 20 ; written assignment 20; annotated translation 60%.
Reading materials made available on Blackboard.
Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her.