Iliad translated into ‘South African’

Translation, especially literature translation, can be a very exciting field because there are cultural references within every text that we have to convey.

It is always a question of how to approach translations. Do we try to stay true to the original text and demand the reader gather the background information to understand its setting, or do we localize the text so that the reader understands it despite his own cultural filters?

Richard Whitaker translates Homer’s Iliad for South Africans keeping in mind that the very European concepts of palaces and princes, which convey a certain atmosphere for Europeans, do not apply for South Africans. However, he also found similar philosophies that make perfect sense for the South African addressee.

Of course it is important that we understand a text in the way it was intended by the author, but literature especially should help us to delve into an ocean of phantasy and one should perhaps ensure that these oceans end on Greek beaches and not somewhere else entirely.

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