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Voices of Translation: Rewriting Literary Texts in a Scandinavian Context (completed)

This project began to identify and foreground the "voices" of Scandinavian literary translations.

About the project

Though translation is vital in a globalized world, it remains poorly understood. Most readers still read translations as texts produced solely by the author, although Translation Studies (TS) has shown that translators are creative co-writers. In ten related case studies and two conceptual essays, this project identified the "voices" of Scandinavian literary translations: both the rewritten intra-textual voices (e.g. implied author, narrators and characters) and the rewriting extra-textual voices (i.e., the interactive network of translators, copy editors, general managers, committee members, critics, authors, etc., who are directly or indirectly responsible for the translations).

We combined text and agent analysis. By comparing translations in different Scandinavian languages, we brought to light alterations (shifts) that are not linguistically imposed and hypothesized both their motivation and their effect on the reader.

The project mapped the agent interactions responsible for the alterations, examined reviews and reader blogs, and invited practitioners to reflect on their choices and confront them with our hypotheses.

Our mode of analyzing is replicable, allowing future researchers to map interactions between agents (power mechanisms), to interpret the discursive traces of these interactions, and to understand if/how readers may perceive/interpret these discursive traces.


 1. To demonstrate how intra-textual voices (implied author, narrator and character) are altered when literary texts are translated

2. To show that such voice alterations are produced by the interaction of various agents in a network of translation professionals (translators, authors, publishers, critics, etc.)

3. To demonstrate that some (but not all) voice alterations are visible even if only the translation is read

4. To generate new empirical knowledge on literary translation and translation professionals in Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland)


The project was coordinated by Cecilia Alvstad. It was developed within the frames of the research group Voice in Translation.

Project duration

The project period ran from December 2012 to April 2017.


The project was co-financed by The Research Council of Norway (FRIPRO) and The Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo.


  • The University of Bergen
  • NTNU, Trondheim
  • The University of Helsinki
  • The University of Copenhagen
Tags: Translation Studies, Comparative literature, Narratology, History of the Book, Literary Reception
Published Oct. 27, 2020 12:34 PM - Last modified May 20, 2022 3:00 AM