Representation of translators and interpreters

Klaus Kaindl

Table of contents

Handbook of Translation Studies  Volume 3 (2012), pp. 145–150. Current revision: 2016.
Previous version(s) of this article: , 2016 2012ISSN 2210-4844

© 2012–2016 John Benjamins Publishing Company

Translators and interpreters as fictional characters in literature and film have seen an enormous boom since the 1980s. The fact that the popularity of this motif has been continuously increasing since the beginning of globalization is certainly no coincidence as literature never takes place outside society, but always reacts to social developments, changes and transformations in a versatile way. However, literature and also film have not only discovered translation as a topic and motif recently. In the literature of the Bible, for example, already the role of translators and interpreters was mentioned (e.g. in the Joseph story in Genesis 41–42). Also in the 12th century, interpreting was used as a literary motif in epic poetry (cf. Wiech 1951). And since a fictional translation and a fictional translator have been played with in Don Quixote (1605) by Miguel Cervantes, which has often been referred to as the first modern novel, this motif has been a permanent feature of literary work. Film also took up this subject very early. The Dragoman by the Briton Edward Sloman from the year 1916 or the early film version of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Greek Interpreter with the director George Ridgwell from the year 1922 show that the narrative potential of interpreting was recognized in silent films already.

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