Worldly Translations

Discover the importance of literary translations

Every fan of reading knows that the great classics of world literature remain in the collective memory of humanity. However, for this phenomenon to happen not everything is reduced to the imagination, style and writing of an exceptional author, but it is the literary translation that makes possible the success of a text around the globe.

For those titles such as Anna Karénina, the Harry Potter saga and even The Bible to be the most widely read books in the world today, the work of professional translators has simply become indispensable. Literary or editorial translators have the ability to enhance a work to such an extent that in many cases their name appears on the covers of the books in question.

Unlike other themes, in literary translation it is not only about making a novel, a poem, a play or a story intelligible in other languages; rather, the role of the professional translator is also to give life to a “new” work that preserves the stamp of a specific author.

Reading a book in Spanish that was originally written in English – just to mention one case – is not only reading the story created by an author, but also the experience and professionalism of a literary translator. In this case, as “invisible doers” we must not only faithfully preserve the content and style of a writer, but also turn that professional translation into an artistic fact in itself.


What are the peculiarities of literary translation?

First and foremost, it must be borne in mind that literary translation is a very specific type of translation. It has nothing to do with technical translations or other types of work that we also carry out at Worldly Translations, such as medical translations, legal translations or marketing translations.

The literary translator must capture the content, meaning and seanse of each sentence of the work in question and reformulate it with the words, expressions and cultural references of the target language. In addition to preserving the author’s style, the specialized translator must be able to faithfully convey those “touches of color” and emblematic expressions that make the mark of a writer.

For an editorial translation to be successful it must not only be faithful to the original work, but it must also have an added value linked to the skills of the translator. Ultimately it is this professional who manages the writing of the book retain its appeal in another language to continue captivating readers around the world.


What are the challenges of literary translation?

Like other types of translations, a literary translation has its own difficulties. The main ones are:

  • Proper nouns: On many occasions, the names of the characters or the places where the story takes place may have relevance or a special meaning only in the original language. Therefore, when this occurs the translators must consider whether they will translate them or leave them as they are.
  • Specific terminology: Some literary genres, such as science fiction, may have very particular terminology that must be mastered in order to interpret and translate the work correctly.
  • Word games and rhetorical figures: Although they are more common in poetry, they can appear in any type of literary text. In some cases, there is simply no equivalent in the target language, so the translator must look for an alternative that best suits the original meaning.
  • The sagas and their peculiarities: In a saga, it is important to maintain certain translation rules with which the readers are familiar and to respect the terminology that its followers already know.

What characteristics should a literary translator have?

In the first place, for a book to become an enjoyable and relevant work also in other languages, a translator specialized in literature must be used. The knowledge of the professional translator, their creativity and own literary skills play a key role in order not to lose quality both in relation to the meaning and the prose in question.

Therefore, a literary translator should not only be a professional translator, but should also be an amateur reader and a good copywriter. A professional who has sufficient artistic tools, reference materials and attributes to turn “a simple translation” into a literary work that conquers readers around the world.


How can I contact a literary translator?

Worldly Translations is a translation agency with more than a decade of experience, so we know how to respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of our clients. We have specialized translators, so we assign each job to the most appropriate person to carry out that task.

If you need to translate a book, contact us as we have literary translators who are passionate about writing and the languages of the world.

We hope you have enjoyed learning about what literary translation is all about and why it is so important in the success of an international book. Until next time!