An excerpt from "The Handkerchief" by Brigitte Kronauer

Originally published as "Das Taschentuch". Translated from the German by Christopher McNulty

Master's Thesis, 2019

80 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of contents

Previous translation
Translation strategy
Specific challenges




The German author Brigitte Kronauer’s fourth novel, Das Taschentuch, is a tragicomedy about the old-fashioned pharmacist Willi Wings, the narrator Irene Gartmann’s secret affections for him, and the complex situation in Germany following the ‘Wende’ or period of sociopolitical change that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Twenty-five years after the novel was first published in 1994, this dissertation provides an introduction to Kronauer and to Das Taschentuch, reviews the only known translation into English – a partial translation published by Jutta Ittner in 2009 – and sets out the purpose of and strategy for a new translation. Drawing on work by theorists Christiane Nord and Peter Newmark, this new translation aims to retain the author’s voice and sense of humour, to open up the source culture for the target language reader, and at the same time to provide an accessible text for all users.

Some general challenges presented by the text – including linguistic differences between German and English, the contrasting treatment required for dialogue and narrative sections, and idiosyncrasies of Kronauer’s style – are addressed in an introductory analysis, together with strategies for resolving them. The translation itself, meanwhile, is accompanied by annotations which explain particular choices or highlight difficulties encountered during the translation process. This dissertation is intended to serve as a contribution to a greater understanding and appreciation of the work of Brigitte Kronauer, who sadly passed away during its preparation.


Huge thanks to my family – especially Mum and Laura – for gracing my increasingly bizarre questions and suggestions with sensible responses; to Hayley and Domenico for their English expertise and German ingenuity; to my supervisor Debbie Pinfold for her positivity, good ideas and honest feedback; to Nicky Sweetland at the University of Bristol Students' Union; and to Bashar for his patience and the constant provision of sustenance.

I would also like to thank Prof. Dr. Sven Hanuschek at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Gabriele May at the Goethe-Institut in Munich, Carlotta Heilmeier at the Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, and Coralie Courtois and Helen Gorman at Klett-Cotta in Stuttgart.

Author’s declaration

I declare that the work in this dissertation was carried out in accordance with the requirements of the University’s Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes and that it has not been submitted for any other academic award. Except where indicated by specific reference in the text, this work is my own work. Work done in collaboration with, or with the assistance of others, is indicated as such. I have identified all material in this dissertation which is not my own work through appropriate referencing and acknowledgement. Where I have quoted or otherwise incorporated material which is the work of others, I have included the source in the references. Any views expressed in the dissertation, other than referenced material, are those of the author.

SIGNED: Christopher McNulty DATE: 09/09/2019



Brigitte Kronauer was born in Essen in 1940 and was one of Germany’s most acclaimed contemporary writers in the decades around the turn of the millennium, winning numerous literary prizes including the Fontane-Preis der Stadt Berlin in 1985, the Heinrich-Böll-Preis in 1989, and the prestigious Georg-Büchner-Preis in 2005. This dissertation focuses on her fourth novel, Das Taschentuch, published in 1994. After a brief introduction to Kronauer and her work and a review of the only known translation of the novel – a partial translation published by Jutta Ittner in 2009 – I shall outline my own translation strategy before covering in detail some of the specific challenges presented by the text. This dissertation is intended to serve as a contribution to a greater understanding and appreciation of Kronauer’s work, twenty-five years after the publication of Das Taschentuch and some months after the author sadly passed away in Hamburg on 22 July 2019.

Written at a time of flux in the recently-reunified country, Das Taschentuch was originally published by the Stuttgart-based Klett-Cotta Verlag – which remained Kronauer’s publisher throughout her life, releasing her posthumous work Das Schöne, Schäbige, Schwankende in August 2019 – and has become something of a modern classic.1 The tragicomic plot of Kronauer’s novel portrays "einen Untergang – den ihrer Hauptfigur Willi Wings, eines Apothekers mit epileptischen Schwindelanfällen und Absencen, und den der bundesrepublikanischen Gesellschaft in den neunziger Jahren" ["a demise – both of her protagonist Willi Wings, a pharmacist with epileptic seizures including absence seizures, and of the society of the Bundesrepublik in the nineties"] (Ehlebracht 2008, p.47-48). Moreover, the vintage pharmacy interiors and kitsch window displays so admired by Willi Wings are also in demise, as they gradually get replaced as part of the modernisation – “[d]ie Leute sind verrückt auf Gläsernes, auf Durchsichtiges, Luftiges” [“people are crazy about anything that’s glass or transparent, airy”] (Kronauer 1994, p.50) – and commercialisation – “ein Kollege im Ruhrgebiet hat sogar Bügeleisen an die Stammkundschaft verschenkt” [“a colleague in the Ruhr area has even been giving irons away to regular customers”] (ibid., p.51) – of healthcare services at the time. The novel is narrated by Irene Gartmann, an author who has known Willi since childhood and who is secretly in love with him. Her occasional reflections on the complex situation in Germany following the ‘Wende’ – the “turning point” or process of sociopolitical change that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall – contrast starkly with the majority of her observations, which concern everyday scenes, characters or gestures and are often humorous in nature.

Critics praised Kronauer’s texts for being “immer verlässlich, was Witz und Virtuosität angeht” [“ever reliable, as far as humour and virtuosity are concerned”] (Mayer 2017), and “in Schönheit [genau]” [“beautiful in their accuracy”] (Steinfeld 2019), but her writing was also criticised for being too prolix; one contemporaneous reviewer of Das Taschentuch was of the opinion that the work focused too much on “Peripheres und Triviales, ihren den banalsten Alltagskram ins Unwirkliche übersteigernden Beschreibungsorgien” [“peripheral and trivial details, the most banal, everyday nonsense drawn out into unrealistically over-the-top orgies of description”] (Höbel 1994).2 Kronauer’s style is indeed heavy on detail and description and she had a fondness for ‘Schachtelsätze’ or long, multi-clause sentences; it has been claimed that “man [sucht] vergeblich nach einer nennenswerten Handlung” [“one searches in vain for some sort of noteworthy action”] (Kister 2019) in her works. “Der Plot indes war ihre Sache nicht” [“plots were not really her thing”] was the blunt conclusion arrived at by Ijoma Mangold in his obituary for Kronauer on ZEIT ONLINE (2019).

One consequence of Kronauer’s predilection for long, illustrative sentences is that her works have often been characterised as challenging to read. Her colleague Martin Mosebach, for example, stated: “sie hat vielleicht nie ein besonders großes Publikum für sich gewonnen, denn die Lektüre ihrer Werke braucht Hingabe” [“she was perhaps never particularly popular among the masses, because reading her works requires commitment”] (Deutschlandfunk Kultur 2019b). Das Taschentuch is no exception: not only the lengthy descriptions but also the colourful vocabulary, neologisms, and the narrative’s jumping between different time levels (Höbel 1994) make for a demanding novel.

As for Kronauer’s “uninspiring” (Mahlendorf 1995, p.575) title, this refers to “the old-fashioned item that her old-fashioned hero, Willi Wings, carries around with him for emergencies” (Ittner 2009, p.183). Willi’s handkerchief makes appearances throughout the novel – mostly in a comical context – but in a broader sense, “[d]ieses ordinäre Tuch, gemeinhin bestimmt für Rotz und Wasser, Blut, Schweiß und Tränen, auch Lachtränen, faßt zum Ende tatsächlich zeichenhaft den ganzen Roman in sich zusammen, seine Komik, seine Trauer, seine Mühsal und Alltäglichkeit” [“this common cloth, generally intended for snot and water, blood, sweat and tears – also tears of laughter – actually sums up the whole novel in the end, symbolically – its comedy, its tragedy, its tribulations and banality”] (Baumgart 1994).

Previous translation

As far as the Klett-Cotta Verlag is aware (personal communication, 3 September 2019), Das Taschentuch has never been translated in its entirety into any language. A selection of extracts was, however, translated into English by Jutta Ittner in 2009 as part of her English-language study Constructs of Desire: Selections from Brigitte Kronauer, which also features an introduction to Kronauer, an interview with her, a translation of the address she gave on accepting the Georg-Büchner-Preis, and an extensive bibliography. Kronauer is presented to the reader as an author who "has until now remained virtually unknown in the English-speaking world" (Ittner 2009, front flap) and the text is clearly designed to be accessible to target language (TL) readers with no knowledge of German whatsoever: when referring to the names of Kronauer’s works, for example, a TL translation is always provided, even if the original source language (SL) name is not.

For Das Taschentuch, Ittner selected and translated four extracts from the novel. Two of these are not discrete, with the result that her translation consists of six separate sections in total, each ranging from five to ten pages. These are intended to give TL readers unfamiliar with the author an introduction to and a general impression of Kronauer’s writing, rather than provide them with a summary of the text.

It is clear from the orthography (“parlor”, “gray”, “center”) and vocabulary (“cookie sheet”, “kibitzers”, “condominiums”) she uses that Ittner’s target text (TT) is aimed at an American audience, and the register of her translation feels harsher than the source text (ST) in renderings such as “What a bastard[!]” [“So ein Schwein!”] (ibid., p.203) or “What bullshit, I was thinking” [“So ein Quatsch! dachte ich”] (ibid., p.205). She often employs a domesticating approach – where aspects of the ST which would highlight its origin in the SL are removed or made invisible in the TT – for example by avoiding SL terms in “old Mrs. Luchs” [“alte Frau Luchs”] (ibid., p.193) or “Mr. Wings” [“Herr Wings”] (ibid., p.196). This ensures that the TT is accessible for TL readers, but can also mean that marked or humorous content in the ST is absent in the translation.

The phrase “Willi’s buddy from a childhood amidst post-war rubble” [“Willigesellschafterin aus der Trümmerkindheit”] (ibid., p.191), for example, is perfectly comprehensible to TT readers but has lost the comedic aspect of the neologism “Willigesellschafterin” in the ST. Similarly, in the following example, the disappearance of the SL lexical item “futterneidisch” again results in a less humorous TT:

acht Personen, die kurz vorher, während sie es sich doch schmecken ließen, absonderliche Grimassen geschnitten hatten … die sich alle abstrus futterneidisch auf das süße Zeugs bezogen

eight people who were now enjoying the sweet stuff but had shortly before pulled the weirdest faces in an absurd case of the green-eyed monster (ibid., p.187)

Although the clarity of the TT has ostensibly been ensured by the use of the TL idiom “green-eyed monster”, this – combined with the restructured syntax – actually results in a TT which is less clear than the ST.

At other points in her translation, Ittner applies a more foreignising approach. This refers to a translation strategy where the TT reader is actively made aware of linguistic and cultural differences between the ST and the TT.3 Sometimes, for example, Ittner introduces SL lexis – “festive coffee klatsch” [“festlichen Kaffeetrinkens“] (ibid., p.186) gives TL readers an insight into the SL culture and reminds them they are reading a translated text – or borrows from the ST: “Already a real little mom, little woman, what a little hausfrau !” [“Schon ein richtiges Mütterchen und Fräuchen, Hausfräuchen!”] (ibid., p.188). In both cases, the translation remains accessible because the sense is clear from the context, even if readers may not be aware of the exact meaning of the SL terms.4

Other foreignising techniques employed by Ittner include staying close to the SL in lexical choices – “Well, birthday child?” [“Na, du Geburtstagskind!”] (ibid., p.186) – or grammar – “He waved at the three” [“Er winkte den dreien zu”] (ibid., p.201). Elsewhere, she retains aspects of SL syntax, for example the retention of the prepositional phrase at the start of the sentence here, which is standard in the SL but marked in the TL:

Von Hilde hat er mir erzählt, sie krame jetzt, da sie allein leben müsse, absichtlich in ihrer Küche, bis alles nach intakter Geschäftigkeit aussehe

About Hilde he told me that she kept bustling around in her kitchen now that she was all by herself, so that she looked like the busybody she used to be (ibid., p.194)

Of course, TL readers have an expectation that they will be able to understand a text which has been translated into their language, and “there would normally be a price to pay for opting for any deviant kind of behaviour” (Toury 2012 [1995], p.170) which does not heed TT norms.5 In the instances above, this “price to pay” might be that TT readers assume the translator has made a mistake; that they do not understand or misunderstand the TT; or that they make negative judgements regarding the ST author’s style.

Ittner’s approach to Kronauer’s trademark multi-clause sentences, which, as shown above, constitute an important aspect of the author’s style, is often to simplify or streamline them. In the example below, the new clause introduced for “sportlich patent auch” in the ST implies that this is an afterthought; the effacement of the separate clause in the TT inevitably results in a semantic loss:

Hält man sich Ingeborgs zwar tapfer geschminktes, aber hoffnungslos rechtschaffenes Gesicht, sportlich patent auch, vor Augen

Just visualize Ingeborg’s hopelessly plain though practical and athletic face—even at its most courageously madeup (Ittner 2009, p.191)

Sometimes, Ittner’s syntactical restructuring goes so far as to affect the information structure of the text (Halliday 1970 cited Baker 2011, p.131-5). In the following example, the transition between theme and rheme – the “part of a sentence communicating information relative to whatever is indicated by the theme” (Matthews 2014b) – has been confused, with the result that TT readers will interpret the sentence differently from ST readers. In the ST, the rheme “auch das ja eine vage Kindheitsreminiszenz” most likely refers to the theme “übertrieben nach Duschgel roch”. In the TT, however, the corresponding rheme “another of our vague childhood reminiscences” appears to refer to the theme “flaunting of medical expertise”:

dieses niedliche Gelichter, das montags, wenn es so auffällig medizinisch tat, übertrieben nach Duschgel roch, auch das ja eine vage Kindheitsreminiszenz

the pretty bunch that on Mondays smelled so excessively of shower gel while flaunting their medical expertise—which would be another of our vague childhood reminiscences (Ittner 2009, p.193)

Similarly unsuccessful syntactic restructuring can be seen in the following example, where the effacement of a subordinate clause results in a TT which implies that the piles of rubble, rather than Herder Street, were where Willi and Irene grew up:

Für Willi mußte es … so sein, als schritte er, statt der Meeresküste, unsere alte verkommene Herderstraße mit ihren Trümmern, in der wir beide groß geworden waren, noch einmal ab

it must have seemed as though he weren’t walking along the beach but … along our old, run-down Herder Street with its piles of rubble where we grew up” (ibid., p.199)

Finally, Ittner’s translation sometimes replaces passive or impersonal structures in the ST with active or personal ones in the TT. In the following example, the ST makes no reference to the first person and just one reference to the second person, in comparison to five references to the first person and four to the second person in the TT. The result is, in this instance, a TT dialogue which is much more grounded in the characters’ personal experiences than the more general ST dialogue:

Aber das ist es ja, würdest du antworten, wenn das Gefühl mitmacht, ist alles in Ordnung! Das unangemessene Brimborium wegen einer Sache, an deren Bedeutung man nicht ernstlich glaubt, nur das ist nicht zu ertragen und eine Verhöhnung. Ja, Willi, stimmt!

But that’s exactly what I mean. If you respond and there is a real emotion I’m fine with it! What I resent is the inappropriate fuss about nothing really meaningful, that I find insulting. Well, Willi, I’ll give you that—where you’re right you’re right. (ibid., p.195)

On the whole, then, Ittner’s translation is more successful when it keeps close to the ST, for example by maintaining aspects of the ST syntax to reflect Kronauer’s style or by employing foreignising strategies to open up the SL culture and retain marked or comic content from the ST. On the other hand, her TT suffers when the information structures from the ST are not maintained, resulting in mistranslations, or when impersonal constructions from the ST are effaced in the TT.

Translation strategy

In terms of my own translation, I decided first of all to determine some characteristics of the text and its users in order to ascertain which approach I wanted to take. The ‘Textsorte’ or genre is a novel – fictitious prose narrative – and the text type, to use the terminology of Katharina Reiß (1971/2000, p.25-6), is expressive. It has an ‘Ausdrucksfunktion’: rather than communicating facts or encouraging a behavioural response, the text is first and foremost a creative composition.6 When translating texts of this type, “the main concern of the translator should be to preserve aesthetic effect alongside relevant aspects of semantic content” (Hatim and Munday 2004, p.284); in other words, translators should typically consider the style of the text and focus on its artistic aspect.

In terms of the translation commission, I imagined that I, as a freelance translator, had been contacted directly by the author herself – the translation “initiator” to use Christiane Nord’s terminology (2005, p.6). So that she may reach out to UK publishers and encourage them to commission an English translation of the whole novel – perhaps to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – I supposed that the author had asked me to translate a section of it as a preview. The excerpt chosen by her – the ST for my translation – is discrete, unlike Ittner’s extracts, and does not cross over with the passages translated previously.

Establishing the function or skopos7 of the translation was the next step: Nord has noted that "[i]t is not the source text as such, or its effect on the ST receiver, or the function assigned to it by the author, that operates the translation process [...] but the intended function or skopos of the target text as determined by the initiator's needs" (ibid., p.10, emphasis added). In fact, my translation has a dual skopos. Firstly, it is intended to present TT “addressees” (Holz-Mänttäri 1984, p.109-11; Nord 1997, p.22) – that is, members of the public who buy and read the book – with an acceptable8 text; and secondly, is it designed to impress and arouse the interest of TT “receivers” or decision-makers at publishing houses who will ideally commission a translation of the full text.9

Regarding the TT addressees, I anticipate educated laypeople who may be experienced in reading translated texts, and who might have an interest in Germany, humorous or tragicomic literature, or the period in which the novel is set – but who do not have sufficient language skills to read the ST in the SL. As for the TT receivers, they may or may not be able to read the ST in the SL; at any rate, I assume they cover a great deal of translated material and are very familiar with the contemporary publishing business. The difference in time and place between the ST context (Germany in the 1990s10 ) and the TT context (the UK in the 2010s) is relatively small, which should ensure that the content of the ST can be expressed satisfactorily in the TL.

In terms of my translation strategy, then, one option would have been to create a TT which aims to have an identical effect on the TL reader as the ST had on the SL reader at the time of publication. Had I adopted this strategy, I might have performed a cultural transplantation (Hervey et al. 2006, p.33-4) by setting the action of the novel in the UK in the present day, renaming the characters using forenames and surnames more recognisable in contemporary Britain and removing or updating references to real-life people and events.11 Peter Newmark termed this sort of translation ‘communicative translation’. He described it as an approach which "attempts to produce on its readers an effect as close as possible to that obtained on the readers of the original” (1981, p.39), with the result that translations are “likely to be smoother, simpler, clearer, more direct, [and] more conventional" (ibid.).12 The majority of mainstream translation in the West today aligns closely with this approach (Robinson 2012, p.84), resulting in texts which read, more or less, as though they had originally been written in the TL.

Newmark contrasted this with ‘semantic translation’, an approach which "attempts to render, as closely as the semantic and syntactic structures of the second language allow, the exact contextual meaning of the original" (1981, p.39). This is achieved by creating a TT which "remains within the original culture and [...] tends to be more complex, more awkward [and] more detailed" (ibid.) than the ST. As outlined above, I found Ittner’s translation less successful when it strayed too far from the SL, and decided, therefore, to incorporate elements of Newmark’s ‘semantic translation’ into my TT.

My strategy, then, has been to provide a translation which – while adhering on the whole to TL norms – retains Kronauer’s voice, humour and style (particular aspects of which are outlined in the next section) in order to resound with the TT receivers. At the same time, it will also open up the SL and its culture for the TT addressees. Since readers (particularly the TT receivers) may be proficient in the SL and as the author writes in a very particular, careful manner, my translation must also accurately reflect the content of the ST. In some respects, this strategy resembles the one adopted by Ittner. However, in contrast to her translation, I have endeavoured both to prioritise foreignising strategies which do not modify the text’s information structures and to avoid extremely marked TL syntax which might be construed as incorrect by TT readers (Vinay and Darbelnet (1995 [1958], p.31-2).13 While translating, I have been mindful of the deforming tendencies outlined by Antoine Berman in his negative analytic of translation (2012 [1985]), for example by not providing a smooth, unambiguous TT where the ST is ambiguous and by not standardising the ST where it is marked.

In line with this strategy, I have retained the characters’ German names,14 including those with non-standard TL characters such as umlauts (Paul Bürger, Frau Schüssler). I have also borrowed basic lexis (such as “Frau”, “Herr”, “[Deutsch]mark” or “Wiener schnitzel”) from the SL culture which is widely understood in the TL. For less well-known terms which I chose to borrow as a means of adding SL flavour to the TT (such as “Reeperbahn” or “Bundeswehr”), I have ensured that these can be understood from their context, adding some basic explanation if necessary. On the other hand, I have not retained SL lexis which would require specialist knowledge of the SL culture or detailed contextualisation (such as “DDR” or “Gartenamt”).

As I am targeting UK-based publishers, I have translated into British English. For matters of style such as quotation marks, capitalisation, hyphens and so on, I have followed the Guardian style guide (Hodsdon and Marsh 2010), except for numbers, which I preferred to always spell out in words. Unlike Ittner, I have generally applied SL capitalisation rules for borrowed common nouns (with the exception of SL terms in wider use in the TL, such as “schnitzel”), again as a means of informing the TL reader about the SL culture. Regarding measurements, I have adopted a flexible approach, since this is not a special feature of Kronauer’s style which should be retained. The ST makes two references to square metres; in both cases, I have preferred to adapt the text as the precise areas are unimportant. There are also three references to metres, two of which occur in the narrative and one of which in Ingeborg’s dialogue; I have retained the former and adapted the latter to yards, in line with colloquial use in contemporary British English (Kelly 2011; Dahlgreen 2015).

As my ST begins on page 58 of the book, there are some aspects of the text which would be unclear to TT readers if no extra context were provided, such as the relationships between characters introduced previously, or references to events or conversations which took place earlier in the text. In these cases, I have adopted various strategies, choosing either to insert brief explanations into the text body (for information essential to readers’ understanding, such as the relationship between Willi, Ingeborg and Jutta); to stay close to the ST as it is (for passing references which might be inferred from the text, such as the relationship between Willi and his mother Hilde); or, in extreme cases, to omit content from the TT entirely (for passing references which would require a disproportionate amount of explanation, such as the word “Mißgeburtenbesitzer”).15 In any case, while I deem translator’s notes unsuitable for my strategy – neither the TT receivers nor the TT addressees would expect them – I would inform the client separately that I have made adjustments to the ST in this way. Should a full translation be commissioned, I would of course reverse these changes.

In the final section of my analysis, I consider some aspects of the translation process which have presented particular challenges.


1 Das Taschentuch was one of the set literary pieces for the 2019 Goethe-Institut C2 level examinations. Prof. Dr. Sven Hanuschek at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, who was responsible for this choice, stated that “die [ausgewählten] titel sollen schon eine gewisse repräsentanz haben, sollen also etwas über das aktuelle deutschland oder das deutschland der letzten jahrzehnte aussagen … kronauer schließlich ist eine der wichtigsten lebenden autorinnen” [“the [chosen] works should certainly be representative in a certain way, i.e. they should have something to say about Germany today or Germany over the past decades. Kronauer is, after all, one of the most important living [female] authors”] (personal communication, 23 July 2019, lack of capitalisation in original. Unless otherwise attributed, all English translations of German references cited in the text are my own). In fact, the author had passed away the previous day.

2 The novel received mixed reviews upon publication. Reinhard Baumgart was positive in the ZEIT newspaper (1994) but Wolfgang Höbel noted in the SPIEGEL magazine that the work basically consisted of “[e]in Exzeß an Ereignislosigkeit, an kunstvoll-beiläufigem Geplauder, an kumpelhafter Koketterie mit dem Leser” [“excessive uneventfulness, elaborately parenthetical chit-chat and chummy coquetry with the reader”] (1994). One English language review published in a journal of international literature concluded that “Das Taschentuch ’s combination of kaffeeklatsch, blaming, and mucus do not add up to redeeming literary value” (Mahlendorf 1995, p.575) and “none of the characters commands the reader’s sympathy, because the author acquaints us only with their outward gestures, their appearances, and their exchanges of social platitudes. The protagonist remains as flat as the other characters” (ibid.).

3 The concept of foreignising is not new: in the nineteenth century, Friedrich Schleiermacher promoted an approach to translation in which “the translator leaves the writer in peace as much as possible and moves the reader toward him” (2012 [1813], p.49). In the present day, as “English is the most translated language worldwide, but one of the least translated into” (Venuti 1995, p.12-14 cited Venuti 1998, p.10), many contemporary critics advocate foreignising translation as a means of counteracting the unequal cultural values of the English-speaking world.

4 Ittner conforms to TL capitalisation rules for common nouns to avoid further distracting her reader.

5 On the other hand, I envisage that many literary translators in the West today assume that their TT readers have more flexible expectations when reading literature which they know has been translated. Toury observed that “a translator may subject him-/herself either to the original text, with the norms it has realized, or to the norms active in the target culture, or, in that section of it which would host the end product” (Toury 2012 [1995], p.171, emphasis added); in other words, a translator may choose to adhere more or less strictly to TL norms depending on the specific genre of the TT.

6 As will be seen, my TT will have elements of an ‘Appellfunktion’ or appellative function, as it is designed to induce a reaction on the part of the TT receivers. In any case, the ST remains a work of fiction with an expressive text type.

7 Skopos theory views translation less in theoretical terms and more as an action with a realistic purpose (Reiß and Vermeer 1984).

8 “Acceptable” both in the regular sense of the word and in the sense used by Gideon Toury, who differentiated between an “adequate” TT which stays close to the SL norms and an “acceptable” TT in which TL norms prevail (2012 [1995], p.171).

9 In reality, the TT’s purpose would first and foremost be to persuade decision-makers at publishing houses, as amendments for the benefit of the TT addressees could be made if and when a full translation were commissioned.

10 The novel is set in Germany (although the characters later travel to Belgium) and makes some allusions to the USA (either regarding the Gulf War or Martina’s fiancé/Bedniak’s son). There are several mentions of contemporary political events, but no notable references to the UK or British culture.

11 An advantage of this technique for texts rooted firmly in their SL culture – such as the present ST – is that the non-exoticism of the text is retained; conversely, when a text is not culturally transplanted, “the TT will have an impact on the TL public quite unlike any that the ST could have had on an SL public, for whom the text is not exotic” (Hervey et al. 2006, p.33).

12 Newmark based his theory on the work of Eugene Nida (1964); he found Nida’s concept of ‘dynamic equivalence’ problematic, however, because in most translations it is impossible for the TT to have exactly the same effect on the TL reader as the ST had on the SL reader: "the translator is essentially trying to render the effect the SL text has on himself [...], not on any putative readership" (1988, p.48-49).

13 This is in line with Lawrence Venuti’s pragmatic approach to foreignisation: “translation concerned with limiting its ethnocentrism does not necessarily risk unintelligibility and cultural marginality. A translation project can deviate from domestic norms to signal the foreignness of the foreign text and create a readership that is more open to linguistic and cultural differences – yet without resorting to stylistic experiments that are so estranging as to be self-defeating” (1998, p.87).

14 Reinhard Baumgart noted upon the novel’s publication: “Willi Wings – was für ein nichtssagender und doch hintersinniger Name: Ins Deutsche und damit ins Eindeutige übersetzt, hieße dieser Mensch also Fritz Flügel” [“Willi Wings – what a meaningless name, and yet one with a hidden meaning: translated into German and thus into unambiguous language, this person would be called Fritz Flügel"] (1994). Alongside Fritz, Willy and Willie were further possibilities for the protagonist’s name in my TT; ultimately, retaining the SL name and orthography seemed the best fit.

15 Inevitably, omitting information completely from the TT results in a loss on several levels, yet I deemed this approach preferable in line with my strategy and in the interests of providing TL receivers and addressees with a readable TT.

Excerpt out of 80 pages


An excerpt from "The Handkerchief" by Brigitte Kronauer
Originally published as "Das Taschentuch". Translated from the German by Christopher McNulty
University of Bristol
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brigitte kronauer, kronauer, das taschentuch, the handkerchief, willi wings, irene gartmann, translation, english, german, deutsch, englisch, übersetzung, taschentuch, handkerchief, übersetzungswissenschaft
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Christopher McNulty (Author), 2019, An excerpt from "The Handkerchief" by Brigitte Kronauer, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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- It only takes five minutes
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