Publication details [#10452]

Strack, Daniel C. 2007. Literature in the Crucible of Translation: A Cognitive Account. Okayama, Japan: University Education Press. 215 pp. URL
Publication type
Book – monograph
Publication language


Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley asserted that attempting to translate poetry is like casting a violet into a crucible. While Shelley's metaphor is intuitive and compelling and certainly has an element of truth to it, just how far does that truth go? After poetry has been translated, does anything poetic remain? More broadly, after literature has been translated, does anything literary remain? This book examines literary translation, both with respect to the translation process and its results. Aside from offering numerous examples from Japanese and English-language literature and corresponding translations, this book also offers a number of English translations of previously unavailable quotations concerning translation from noted Japanese authors and tra(Daniel Strack)nslators. Acknowledgments Note on Japanese Orthography Briefly mentions Shelley's "crucible" metaphor and introduces the approach and aims of the book. Offers an overview of the major neurobiological processes that underpin the formation of concepts through development and thereby set the parameters for language acquisition and use. Begins a discussion of how authors take advantage of neural idiosyncrasies to leverage reader attention and also makes a case for understanding metonymy and metaphor in broadly conceptual rather than narrowly linguistic terms. Demonstrates how strategic use of parallelism and repetition are not simply surface effects but often serve as access points to mirrored conceptual content. The chapter also includes the results of a survey assessing the relative viability of various English-language literary values with respect to Japanese translation. Demonstrates how seemingly small differences in conceptualization between languages have the potential in aggregate to profoundly affect the semantic profile of a translated literary text. Observes how certain noticeable and very translatable effects tend to "escalate" through translation while other more subtle and difficult to translate types of artifice tend to disappear entirely, resulting in intensification of certain effects in some cases and flat, uninteresting translations in others. Analyzes excerpts from nine different Japanese translations of Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" and includes statistically significant survey results that verify how the goals of the respective translators are reflected in literary "qualities" evident in the resulting translations. Details how ambiguous titles of literary works do not function simply as short-lived puns but often serve as clues concerning diffused-domain metaphor found within the work as a whole. The chapter also demonstrates, contrary to the assertions of Jakobson and others, that paronomasia often survives the process of translation, at least when it is found in the title of a work. Addresses the issue of equivalence and asserts that while positive aspects of equivalence can only be assessed by the translator herself in light of explicit goals, there are a number of factors that may negatively affect equivalence generally to the extent that the individual translator's goals are impeded. A few of these factors are detailed.