Jane Austen Speaks Norwegian

The Challenges of Literary Translation


What can translations reveal about the global reception of any authorship? In Jane Austen Speaks Norwegian: The Challenges of Literary Translation, Marie Nedregotten Sørbø compares two novels and six translations of them. The discussion is entirely in English, as all Norwegian versions are back-translated. This study therefore lends itself to comparisons with other languages, and aims to fill its place as one component in a worldwide field of research; how Jane Austen is understood and transmitted. Moreover, this book presents a selection of pertinent issues for any translator, including abbreviation and elaboration, style and vocabulary, and censorship. Sørbø gives vivid examples of how literary translation happens, and how it serves to interpret and refashion literature for new readerships.
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Marie Nedregotten Sørbø, Ph.D. (2009), University of Oslo, is Professor of English Literature at Volda University College, Norway. The author of Irony and Idyll (Rodopi, 2014), she has published on the reception of women, including Jane Austen and George Eliot.
"What I so enjoyed about this book was the way it made me think about the genius of Austen’s language.
[...] This book gives the close reader of Austen so much to ponder and discuss.
[...] this excellent book really should be on the shelf of anybody serious about their Austen. I loved accompanying Jane Austen on her fascinating travels in Norway. Well written, thought-provoking and intriguing, this is a book I can highly recommend."
- Susannah Fullerton, Sensibilities, Vol 56. June 2018, pp. 96-100

“Sørbø’s section dealing with what she calls ‘Old-fashionedness as deliberate construction’ is fascinating, and will be of great interest to those who – like me – have no knowledge of the Norwegian language.”
"[…]There are interesting anecdotes to be found […] about cultural transformations, and how England’s Jane crosses borders, anecdotes that would delight a general reader, and indeed viewers of televised Austen adaptations. For the scholarly market, Sørbø’s book, in particular, deserves to be read by those interested in reception history, as well as in literary translation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries more broadly. We have by no means heard the last word on translating Austen [….] proffers useful ways forward for future research.”
-Gillian Dow, University of Southampton in Translation and Literature, Edinburgh University Press, Vol. 29, Part 2, Summer 2020, pp.266-271
List of Illustrations

Introduction: Jane Austen Travels

1 Austen Goes to Norway

2 Cuts and Simplifications

3 Additions and Elaborations

4 Blunder

5 Shades and Nuances

6 A Sense of Style

7 Wanted and Unwanted Repetitions

8 Choice and Repertoire of Words

9 Foreign or Domestic?

10 Irony

11 Censorship

12 Amending the Love Story


Appendix 1: Jane Austen’s Anonymity in Nineteenth-century Translations
Appendix 2: Timeline: Jane Austen’s Presences and Absences in Norwegian Contexts
Students and researchers of English literature and translation, Jane Austen societies, and women's studies and reception studies groups.
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