General Information:

TitleLiterary Translation: A Practical Guide
AuthorClifford E. Landers
Publication Year2001
LinkMultilingual Matters page

Literary Translation is an essential read for every translator who works as, obviously, a literary translator. And in my opinion, game translators are literary translators more than anything else, because they often need to work with stories, characters, dialogues, in addition to creative language.

The book is divided into three parts: “The Fundamentals”, “Techniques of Translation”, and “The Working Translator”. Since it is, to some degree, a vocational guide, the author devotes first and last parts to the professional aspect of literary translation, and I
am not going to comment on them, since many of their sections were irrelevant for me, because they were mainly aimed at literary translators in the strictest sense, that is, those who works with novels and short stories. Other sections that deals with the economic aspect of this job were, and still, a little controversial, and although I am not qualified to judge the info presented, I think that he made some over-generalizations that will not get support of everyone. You should, of course, seek other resources in addition to this book if you are interested in these information, especially when you take into your account how old the book is.

The second part constitutes the backbone of the book, and it is for this part that you should read the book. It focuses on the texts themselves, and discusses a variety of pragmatic and valuable techniques, while at the same time managing to address in detail many, if not most, of the significant issues that the literary translator might face. Topics touched on include tone and register, style, puns and wordplay, and adaptation. There is also sections devoted to other domains of translation such as non-fiction, poetry, and plays.

One limitation of the book, as stated in its preface, is the fact that the direction of translation is assumed to be from a given source language into English, and most examples are from Portuguese or other European languages. I did not find this to be a major problem, although Arabic causes new types of complications and would have made the discussion more interesting. Moreover, having the examples back translated into Arabic would have been nice.

To sum it up, I really loved the book. Landers’ style is engaging and easy to follow, and I have even became interested in reading some of the books he has translated. It is full of useful insights with plenty of examples, and if you are you are involved in the translation of a story-driven game, or that features a large amount of text, such as a fantasy RPG, then you will definitely find it an invaluable and comprehensive resource.