Translating popular fiction

Federico Zanettin

Table of contents

The label popular fiction has been used, together with terms such as “popular literature” and “paraliterature”, to refer to texts perceived as less “worthy” than other texts that have the official approval of the cultural establishment, and which are considered part of the “serious” Literature, with a capital L (see Literary translation). Popular fiction is also often equated to “genre fiction” (Murphy 2018: 5), that is texts usually having a formulaic nature and which rely on standardized characters and plots, belonging to genres such as detective stories, science fiction, romance and comedy. Given the high sales figures which typically characterize popular fiction, translated and not, the term has also been used as a synonym of “mass-market literature” and “bestsellers”. It has been noted, however, that “literary”, rather than “popular”, novels can also be bestsellers (Gelder 2004: 13), and classic literature can also, in fact, be translated for the mass market (Milton 2001).

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