Book review
Per Qvale. From St Jerome to hypertext: Translation in theory and practice
tr. Norman R. Spencer, , English Language RevisionLinda Sivesind & Kirsten Malmkjær. Manchester, UK & Northampton MA: St. Jerome, 2003. xviii + 293 pp. ISBN 1-900650-69-X 25 £ (Originally published in Norwegian as Fra Hieronymus til hypertekst. Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co, 1998).

Reviewed by Jeremy Munday
Table of contents

    Per Qvale has a doctorate in literature from the University of Oslo and is a prolific literary translator, having translated nearly a hundred books from English, German and Swedish. Former President of the Norwegian Association of Literary Translators and former Chair of the Translators’ Literary Council, in 2002 he received the Norwegian Book Club’s Prize for his translation of The magic mountain. This information on the cover of From St Jerome to hypertext: Translation in theory and practice, an English translation of Qvale’s 1998 Norwegian original, is accompanied by a blurb that bills the book as “an ambitious attempt to chart the terrain of literary translation—its history, theory and practice”. The introduction then indicates that it is aimed at a wide audience, including translators, students and teachers of translation and other language professionals in the communication and cultural sectors. This, I feel, ends up blurring the focus, since the chapters shift between the anecdotal, the theoretical and analysis of the working practice of the literary translator. Furthermore, mirroring its subject matter, the highly language- and culture-specific context of the Norwegian source text represents a significant challenge for translation. Publishing a book on translation in translation should not be problematic—would that there were more in English to accompany classics such as those by Vinay and Darbelnet, Delisle, Nord, Reiss and Wilss. But there are issues, so familiar to translation theory, around the process of translating and editing Qvale’s book that would have benefited from more consideration; these concern the declared purpose of the target text and the degree of adaptation, if any, required for its new audience.

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