Tõlkija kui nähtamatu maag: näiteid hispaaniakeelse kirjanduse tõlgetest Jüri Talveti tõlkemõtte valguses / Translator as an Invisible Magician: Some Examples of Spanish Literature Translations in the Light of Jüri Talvet’s Translational Thought


  • Klaarika Kaldjärv University of Tartu




tõlkekirjandus, kirjandussuhted, taidetõlge, tõlketeooria, hispanistika, translations, literary contacts, literary translation, theory of translation, Hispanic studies


Teesid: Tõlkimine Eestis olnud seotud isiksuste ja missiooniga, eesti keele ja kirjanduse arendamisega, lugeja valgustamise ja harimisega. Tõlkimise oluline roll eesti kirjakeele ja omakirjanduse arengus on vastavalt ajalooperioodile mõjutanud valitseva tõlkemeetodi kujunemist. Jüri Talveti kui ühe olulisema kultuurivahendaja tõlkemõte on tõlget ikka vaadelnud osana üleüldisest kirjandustegevusest, tõlkekirjandust osana maailmakirjanduses, tõlkivaid väikerahvaid maailmakirjanduse loojana. Talveti ideaalne tõlkija-isiksus teeb tõlkest suurepärase teose ilma, et sellesse jääks jälge tema kunstilistest seisukohtadest, see isiksus muutub tõlketekstis ise nähtamatuks ja võimaldab tõlkel sulanduda vastuvõtva kirjanduse osaks.


The importance of translation and translated literature in Estonian culture and literature does not need to be stressed, yet the recording of Estonian translation history is still in its early stage and, among other topics, it requires seeking answers to questions of why translation is as it is, why the translator deemed it necessary to emphasize certain qualities of a literary work and allowed others to get “lost in translation” and what these absent qualities could mean to the reader forming their opinion of the work and its author. As one of the most influential cultural mediators, Jüri Talvet has always seen translation as part of general literary activity, literary translations as part of world literature, and the translating small nations as creators of world literature. Talvet’s attention has been drawn to the translator’s personality and the problem of their visibility and invisibility. While Talvet admits that the work of many literary translators has remained undeservedly unrecognized, he still argues that the matter of translators’ invisibility does not justify the attention it has received. Translator’s visibility can only be guaranteed by their role as a cultural-historical personality, which our preeminent translators have always fulfilled. Translator-personality crafts the translation into an excellent work without leaving a single trace of the translator’s own artistic views, the personality itself becomes invisible in the translated text. The ideal invisible self-sacrificing translator-personality creates a translation that reads like a work written in Estonian rather than a translation. Translations where the translator remains visible betray the translator along with the translation’s translatedness. In Estonia, translation has been linked to personalities and a mission—the development of the Estonian language and literature as well as the enlightenment and education of the reader. This objective or principle has in its turn influenced the selection of works suitable for translation, since not all texts are suited to serve the purpose of the mission—translations must fill the gaps in national literature. The importance of translation in the development of the written Estonian language and national literature has, depending on the historical period, influenced the shaping of the dominant translation method, which, on the one hand, favours poetry translations that value the preservation or transfer of form, the meter of some poetic work over the content (narrative structure, terminological and descriptive accuracy, etc.). Even though the main objective and value of the equimetrical method is considered to be the enrichment of (Estonian) poetic language, it also fulfils the function of disguising a text’s translatedness: the use of certain techniques and calculations creates the impression of the translated poem’s similarity to another text written in another language, another time, and following another set of rules. By looking at the example of a translation of the Spanish syllabicassonant romance, we can see that while this method provides the reader with plenty of information on a foreign author’s verse construction, it fails to convey the narrative of the romance. In case of prose translation, the dominant norm demands translations that would, above all, strictly correspond to the grammar and spelling rules of the Estonian language (to avoid littering the language with foreign influences), the text should flow smoothly, be “resonant” and feel like an original. If a translation represents the foreign text singularly and in full right, it may acquire a canonical status in the receiving culture. New translations may demystify it and, in turn, highlight the values that allowed the inclusion of the translation in the dominant canon at a specific time. Therefore, different translators mediating texts by the same author shed light on the relativity of translational equivalence on the one hand and on the importance of the translator’s voice on the other: the translator’s word is the only point of reference that allows the reader to recreate the fictional world built by the work. The conception of a translator as a neutral mediator becomes questionable. The Estonian translation of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Of Love and Other Demons (Del amor y otros demonios, 1994) was first published in 2007, followed by another translation by a different translator in 2008. The translation as well as publishing of the two books took place almost simultaneously, which allows translation criticism to focus on the idiosyncrasies and the result of the two translators’ working styles and not the translation norms of different eras. This kind of situation also allows excluding the earlier translation’s influence to the later one. By juxtaposing two Estonian translations and the Spanish original of García Márquez’s text, we will see that the translation solutions are clearly different from each other. One translator used the so-called pictorial technique: the translator pictures what is described in the text as if it was a film and translates this vivid visual material back into text. On the one hand, Márquez’s rich world of events and metaphors seems to submit easily to this method, but on the other hand, this may entail the risk of changing the way the fictional world is presented to the reader. The functioning of Márquez’s narrative style and magical realism in general is characterized by the depiction of reality, both realistic and unexpected, fantastic, in a restrained manner without highlighting the element of surprise. If the narrator of the translation describes the events with heightened vividness and awe, the general understanding of magical realism may become something else for the reader. The second translation is focused on the text, word or language; the sentence structure follows the syntax of the original as closely as possible. This method can be regarded as literal but without the negative connotation that accompanies the definition of word-for-word translation. Part of the visibility of a translated work in a culture is shaped by the texts and meanings surrounding and accompanying the translation: the translator’s personality, choice of the original, afterword etc. The other kind of visibility is coded within text, it is the translator’s voice, translator’s intentions and the outcome of their work and in this case it does not matter whether the translator is a cultural-historical personality or invisible and almost anonymous. Perhaps the matter of the translator’s visibility-invisibility lies in the inability or unwillingness to value their role, their unavoidable “interference” with the text as significant enough because this could destroy the illusion of the possibility to produce a translation that would sound like it was written in the target language while also simultaneously being that other work written in a foreign language.


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Author Biography

Klaarika Kaldjärv, University of Tartu

Klaarika Kaldjärv – lõpetanud Tartu ülikooli hispaania filoloogia erialal, kaitsnud samas doktorikraadi (2007) pealkirjaga „Autor, jutustaja, tõlkija. Borgese autofiktsioonid eesti keeles“, mis käsitles fiktsionaalse maailma ja narratiivse struktuuri säilimise probleeme argentiina kirjaniku Jorge Luis Borgese autofiktsionaalsete jutustuste tõlgetes eesti keelde. Tõlkinud hispaania keelde Tartu-Moskva semiootikakoolkonna töid ja eesti keelde Julio Cortázari ja Roberto Bolaño teoseid. Töötab hispaania keele ja kirjanduse lektorina ja peamisteks uurimisteemadeks on kirjanduse tõlkimise ja tõlkekirjanduse retseptsiooni probleemid.


Klaarika Kaldjärv – graduated from Tartu University where she works currently as lecturer of Spanish in the Department of Romance Langauges and Literatures. She defended her PhD in 2007 on the problems of stability of the fictional world and its narrative structure in translation („Author, narrator, translator. The autofictions of Borges in Estonian“). She has also translated into Spanish works of Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School and into Estonian works by Julio Cortázar and Roberto Bolaño. Her main research interests are problems of literary translation and its reception and functioning in the society.