Sarah Covington Humanities and Social Science
Telling it Two Different Ways: TheInfluence of Culture on theTranslation of Goethe's Faust
From Homers Odyssey to Dostoevskys Crime and Punishment, the average American high school graduate has at least encountered a work of foreign literature in translation. Yet those students have not likely read the same translations of the works. Where the original language text is fixed, translations can differ wildly. Whats more, there are both British and American versions of Harry Potter; because of cultural differences from one English speaking country to another, there are translations of a book from one language to the same language. How much then, does culture affect the translation of a piece of foreign literature? As a senior thesis, I intend to investigate the influence of culture on translation. I will focus on the structure and thematic emphasis of two nineteenth century English language translations, one American and one British, of Goethes seminal work, Faust. As source material is absolute and permanent, such an approach to the translations of Faust can inform how (contemporary) cultural movements affect interpretation and presentation of foreign language material.