Studying Literature Through Translation

It was quite interesting to see how literature was studied differently through the lens of being translated from a wholly different language. Such works have many different challenges accompanying them.

For one, there is a cultural aspect that is often loss because of a change in a language. Translated works can be as close as they need to in order to get the same story and themes across to the people reading them but without the original language, it will not be the same. Students such as I might have had to deal with the additional question of “Was this exactly how the author intended it or is somewhat different because the translator might have had to tweak the wording a bit to make it fit into our language. Language is very complex and because of that, a phrase that might be translated as close as possible can lose the weight it was intentionally given, and this is mostly true in literature.

There is also the added element of the translator and what he or she might bring to the prose. An article called “Why Translation Matters”, by Edith Grossman reflects that translating work for any medium is an art in and of itself and that the translators can also be classified as writers as they are given the task to decide how a translation fits any given work.

Throughout this class, I often found myself questioning whether or not the author of the original work meant to say the same thing that the translator put into the translated novel and how close it was to the original work compared to other translations for other countries. This added question added more depth to the class than I originally thought would be there and it definitely helped me think a lot about how literature from other places in the world can be.

– Bhavin Bhavsar



Grossman, Edith. “Why Translation Matters.” Words Without Borders, Apr. 2010,


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