Mateusz Cwik von
May 5, 2015
This contribution highlights the conditions of translating literature by way of exemplary samples from German and Japanese literature and theory. The problem of the (in)translatability of literature is discussed from three angles, with an emphasis on the aspect of language. The first part is concerned with the construction of meaning in literature. It considers the meaning of a literary text to be a composite construct built from different semantic forms. This interpretation of meaning as a construction integrating divergent semantic relations enables a systematic exploration of the problems encountered in the translation of literature in the dimension of language. The second and third part of the paper concern themselves with extralinguistic perspectives on the (in)translatability of literature. Literary meaning is in part also conditioned by the historical evolution of aesthetic norms, and by the norms of reception of literary works, both of which are culturally determined.