Reflection on the familiar and the foreign constitutes an important element of Nooteboom’s work. His novels are characterized by references to other literary works, frequently in other languages and by culture-specific elements, by contemplations about language differences and likewise by the use of several rhetorical, often classical tropes. Thus, the translation of Nooteboom’s work constitutes a complex challenge for translators. This study aims to answer the following questions: How do translators deal with Nooteboom’s fascination for the foreign? How is the source text’s interculturalism rendered in various target cultures?
The terms “foreign” and “familiar” will be treated and defined. What is foreign, what is familiar in Nooteboom’s work? Does familiar mean, familiar to the Dutch language and culture or familiar to the author? What is applied as standard in one language or culture is not automatically applied in another language or culture. If you translate the familiar (of Nooteboom’s work, of the Dutch language), it becomes foreign. Conversely, if you translate the foreign, it will become differently foreign or, depending on the translator’s interpretation, differently familiar (namely familiar to the target culture).
This study aims to inventory and describe the problems with which translators are confronted and aims to observe the solution strategies they develop. Structural and typological aspects of the Dutch language on the one hand and sociocultural and poetical elements in the Dutch source texts on the other hand compel translators to make use of all their talents to opt for a particular and convenient choice and thereby determining position. In this study the focus will be on passages which are difficult to translate, like metaphors, oxymorons, multilinguism, metalanguage and humor. Nooteboom’s handling of intertextuality and culture-specific relationships will also be examined. The various translator interpretations will be compared with each other and with the source text. Subsequently, it will be deduced how the author’s poetics and the translator’s poetics relate to each other in this corpus, and a conclusion with respect to interculturalism in Nooteboom’s translated work will be drawn.
The corpus of this PhD project consists of the translations into French, German, English, and Portuguese of five Dutch Nooteboom novels: Een lied van schijn en wezen, Rituelen, In Nederland, Allerzielen and Paradijs verloren.