Investigating literary translators' translatorship through narrative identity

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In this article I apply the concept of narrative identity to examine how the translatorship and professional identity of contemporary Finnish literary translators emerge from their life-story narratives. The data were collected by interviewing ten literary translators in 2018 and 2019. In the analysis my aim is to identify key themes in the translators’ narratives of becoming and being a literary translator. Moreover, my intention is to examine if formal translator training has an effect on the way the informants construct their professional identity as translators. According to the analysis, the professional identity and translatorship of these translators is very much defined by their love for reading and literature, and how rewarding and fulfilling they find the work itself. However, there was no striking difference in the professional identity of those informants who had studied translation and those who had entered the field some other way. The most significant finding was how six out of ten translators consider themselves as writers and creative artists, whereas four translators see themselves more as mediators. It could be argued that for both groups the translatorship is located in-between; the mediator-translators position themselves between the source text and its author and the target reader, and the writer-translators between being an author/artist and a translator.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiterary Translator Studies
EditorsKlaus Kaindl, Waltraud Kolb, Daniela Schlager
Place of PublicationAmsterdam/Philadelphia
ISBN (Electronic)9789027260277
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021
Publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameBenjamins Translation Library (BTL)


  • Translation
  • Literary translation
  • Literary translators
  • Narrative Identity
  • Translatorship

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2


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