Rendering of Form in Translating Emotive Prose

The requirements of equivalence in thetranslation of emotive prose differ considerably from these in other styles where form merely serves to convey the content of the utterance and do not fulfill any expressive and aesthetic function (publicist style in all its genres being to a certain extent an exception). In these styles stylistic means and devices are merely used as their indispensable markers. But in the Belles-Lettres style form and content are inseparable whole; their common goal is to affect the reader emotionally, to appeal to his feelings and to stir his imagination, to arouse his sense of values both ethical and aesthetic. The approach to the problems of equivalence is broader and more flexible in this style. Losses may be greater here but so are the possibilities of compensation because the object in view is to produce as forceful a stylistic effect as that produced by the original. While in the translation of official, scientific and newspaper texts the losses are grammatical or lexical, in the translation of Belles-Lettres texts the losses are also stylistic affecting the expressive value of the translated text. This point may be illustrated by the following example taken from H.W.Morton’s book “In Search of London”, the style of which comes very close to imaginative prose. It is a picturesque and impressive description of the funeral of Henry V.

As the two miles of pompous grief passed through the streets of London, every citizen stood at his doorway holding a lighted taper.

В то время как торжественная похоронная процессия, растянувшаяся на две мили, двигалась по улицам Лондона, в дверях каждого дома стоял его хозяин с зажженной свечой в руках.

The striking metonymical transference of meaning (two miles of pompous grief) cannot be preserved in translation. The combination две мили торжественной скорби is against the norms of Russian valency. The loss in expressiveness is evident here but absolutely unavoidable.

Emotive prose abounds in images which are created by a variety of stylistic devices. A writer’s imagery is always subjective, striking and original his images bear the imprint of his individuality. The choice of stylistic devices and the system of imagery determined by the writer’s design and form one interdependent whole.

When she paid the coachman she took her money out of a hard steel purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by a heavy chain, and shut up like a bite. I had never, at that time seen a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone was.

Расплачиваясь с кучером, она достала деньги из твердого металлического кошелька, а кошелек она хранила, как в тюрьме, в сумке, которая висела у нее через плечо на тяжелой цепочке и защелкивалась, будто норовя укусить. Я никогда до тех пор не видел такой металлической леди, как мисс Мердстон.

Dickens uses many stylistic devices which are built around the same image “hard steel”: the translation is just as expressive and no losses have been incurred.

Sometimes in the attempt to preserve the writer’s imagery at the same level of expressiveness, the translator “reshuffles” all its components as does Julia Zhukova in her excellent translation of the following extract from Faulkner’s story.

They passed so, that semblance of a thrust and a hawk in terrific immobility in mid-air, this an apparition – like suddenness: a soft clatter of hooves in the sere needle and were gone, the man stooping, the woman leaning forward like a tableau of flight and pursuit on a lightning bolt.

Они появились неожиданно как духи, и так же неожиданно исчезли в мягком стуке копыт по сухим сосновым иглам, - две птицы, застывшие в быстром как ветер полете, коршун и его добыча.

These examples especially the latter prove that the conception of equivalence in the translation of emotive prose is flexible, broad and comprehensive. Equivalence in this case is functional, aimed at producing a similar effect in the TL, conveying the same degree of tension, and of emotive colouring in conformity with the author’s design. Substitutions must be qualitatively equivalent. Losses which are inevitable in translation can nearly always be compensated for by a skilful use of substitutions because the same effect can be achieved by different stylistic devices.

Prichard’s questions stung him to silent bottled up fury. (J.Hilton).

The causative verb + complex object structure is peculiar to the English language and there is no corresponding structure in Russian (stung him to fury). The semantics of the verb “to sting” can be regarded in the Russian translation at the expense of compactness.

Вопросы Причарда так его удивили, что он едва мог сдержать свою ярость, но промолчал.

The epithet “bottled-up” (fury) cannot be preserved in translation because of different collocability (закупоренная ярость). Hence a certain loss of imagery, but the referential meaning is rendered by the verb одержать.

It is clear from the preceding analysis that fundamental principles of translation are inviolate, but equivalence is not a rigid concept and varies in the rendering of texts belonging to different styles.