본문 바로가기
  • Home

A Critical Study on Deborah Smith’s The Vegetarian as a Translation

Inkyu Lee 1

1국민대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper offers a critical examination of Deborah Smith’s The Vegetarian as a translation. Despite many favorable reviews and being awarded the Man Booker prize, Smith’s English translation of Han Kang’s 『채식주의자』 has provoked a controversy over its quality and unique translation strategy. Throughout the process of her translation, Smith quite often takes uncommon liberties, ‘flying’ as high over the original sentences as to almost recreate Han Kang’s novel in her own way. This ‘super-high-flying’ strategy, developed from her thoroughly reader-oriented view on translation, produces too many ‘high-flown’ transformations in terms of contents. These transformations mainly take three forms: content reconstruction, addition, and omission. All these result in serious distortions of the original content, which leads to an inevitable failure to faithfully reproduce the literary effects of the original work and therefore frustrates the target reader’s solid appreciation of the novel. In spite of its apparently high readability, Smith’s translation also has too many errors or misinterpretations. What these errors tell us is the fact that her knowledge of Korean language is yet on a pretty low level. This very lack of sufficient ability to understand Korean language, we may say with good reason, must have left her no other choice than to take the easy high-flying strategy of taking liberties from the original text. Smith’s translation has made quite an important contribution to raising the status of Korean literature in the world. All things considered, however, Smith’s The Vegetarian cannot be said to be a ‘good’ translation, and its many serious errors need to be corrected through a revised edition.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.