Found in Translation: Strategies by which Translators Render the Fables of Jean de la Fontaine Accessible to Anglophone Readers

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Christian, Mary
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Lethbridge Undergraduate Research Journal
Literary translation, particularly that of poetry and other works in verse, presents many challenges because these works convey meaning not only through words themselves, but through images, sounds, and structural devices that often resist passage from one language to another. Nevertheless, a skillful translator can often use the poetic techniques of the receptor language to create a text that offers the receptor language's native speakers an experience analogous to that of native speakers of the text's original language in reading the original text. This article illustrates strategies of successful poetic translation, using one of Jean de la Fontaine's fables, "Le Lion et le Moucheron" ("The Lion and the Gnat"), as an example. Part One explicates the original French text, noting the contributions of characterization, diction, and structure to the fable's cumulative effect. Part Two examines four English translations of the same fable, comparing the techniques by which Elizur Wright, Sir Edward Marsh, Marianne Moore, and James Michie seek to recreate the didactic and entertaining qualities of La Fontaine's narrative.
La Fontaine, Jean De, 1621-1695. Fables. , Translating and interpreting