Chapter published in:Reflections on Translation Theory: Selected papers 1993 - 2014
[Benjamins Translation Library 132] 2017
► pp. 281–294
This paper is an analysis of Kundera’s essay “Une phrase” (‘A sentence’), where he criticizes French translations of a sentence in Kafka’s novel Das Schloß (‘The castle’). Kundera argues that literary translators must be as literal as possible, sticking close to every detail of the author’s style. I suggest that this position is based on a dubious assumption about the universal effects of stylistic features. I then relate Kundera’s view to some aspects of his life, with reference to Simmel’s sociological concept of the stranger.
Keywords: Kundera, Kafka, style, literal translation, universals, Simmel’s stranger