A new book seeks to respond to the information needs of literary translators

2006 March 1
A new book seeks to respond to the information needs of literary translators

Just as any trade requires a set of suitable tools to perform the specific tasks it involves, so does the professional translator need to resort to good reference sources to find relevant information when it comes to translating a literary text. One cannot always rely on the muses' prompt assistance for inspiration, after all.

That's why professors Consuelo Gonzalo García and Valentín García Yebra have collected the essays presented at the seminar Instrumentos documentales y terminológicos del traductor literario and made them available in the book Manual de documentación para la traducción literaria, so that translators can have a guidebook which lists plenty of information and reference sources to be found in print and, particularly, on the Internet. The authors' aim is to show a method to draw on when coming across problems related to lack of biographic data, linguistic pitfalls and the nuts and bolts of any subject in particular. Indeed, all of these problems are sooner or later encountered when tackling the translation of a literary text.

All authors agree that information needs of literary translators belong to one of the following three types:

  1. Information on the author: biography, literary career, events of his/her lifetime, conflicts, characters…
  2. Information on the author's works: publications, translations, reviews…
  3. Remarks on the language and style of the texts: stylistic resources, language variants, register…

With a view to helping the translator to solve any problems related to the lack of any such information, the book offers an array of web sites dealing with those matters. We have selected a few of them for the purposes of this article:

Information on the author

Wikipedia Biographies plus many interesting links.

El poder de la palabra This site is devoted to poetic prose. It features more than 2589 literary texts and biographies of 1715 writers.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Invaluable reference source not only to consult general information, but also writers' biographies. A fee must be paid to access certain contents.

Information on works

Index Translationum Contains a collection of works translated all over the world. Its database has information on all works of both classical and contemporary authors translated and published since 1979. Very interesting links.

Perseus English translations of classical Greek and Roman authors. More than 400 texts and abundant reference for the study of such works. In addition, it offers all of Shakespeare's works, as well as bibliographic and lexicographic reference about them.

Information on language and style

LiteraryHistory About English literature.

VirtualSalt Includes glossaries of literary terms and rhetorical figures.

Finally, all those looking for a literary text will find that the following web sites will stand them in good stead:

Gutenberg 17,000 books which can be consulted on the web.

Bibliomania 2,000 texts, including guidebooks, reviews, etc.

GONZALO GARCÍA, C. and GARCÍA YEBRA, V. (2005): Manual de documentación para la traducción literaria. Madrid, Arco/Libros SL