The mirror and the image: translating the translator

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Literary translation is often regarded as a derivative process involving copying the source text to produce a target text which is a poor reflection of its source. Translating is deemed to involve very little creativity on the part of the translator compared to the original act of authoring. Yet, translator such as Felstiner can feel that translation has emulated the original creative process so closely that the demarcation line between the two processes has become blurred to the point of suggesting the illusion that the author translated the translator/
This article explores the relationships between the authoring and translating processes, on the one hand, and the source test and the target text, on the other, using the metaphor of the mirror as an exploratory tool. The constraints, in terms of both content and form, under which the author and the translator must operate are not dissimilar. The processes show remarkable similarities too in terms of the resources used (language, culture), the progression from the invisible author's intention to its "derivative" representation as a text (source/target), and the multiplicity of possible readings, including some the author may be unaware of. Far from being a poor copy of the source text resulting from the translator's attempt to reflect it, the target test is one possible representation of the author's intention. Both the author and the translator end up as reflecting mirrors capturing this invisible intention to turn it into a visible image: the text offered to the reader.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'The mirror and the image: translating the translator'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this