n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - Translating : literal accuracy, poetic fidelity and cross-cultural communication : research article

Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2279
  • E-ISSN: 2219-8237



The author of this article published an Afrikaans translation of T.S. Eliot's in 1992. This article is a personal contemplation and evaluation of the process of literary translation as experienced in the particular case, referring to aspects of translation theory where relevant. It discusses the unremitting balancing act that literary translation requires, where the translator has to pose the need for as close a literal translation as possible against the need to render, again as faithfully as possible, the comprehensive poetic effect of the work, as regards, for example, stylistic features, emotive force and symbolic significance. Through all of this runs the thread of (a sometimes unconscious) transculturation of the work, partly the result of the desire on the part of the translator to communicate the impact of the poem as successfully as possible to a specific audience with a specific cultural identity and cultural presuppositions. Sometimes the inescapable interpretative nature of literary translation could be attributable to the cultural identity of the translator himself and sometimes it could be the result of the innate cultural dimensions or temper of the recipient language. The problems encountered, solutions arrived at and transcultural evolution effected are illustrated from the (original and translated) texts.

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