Many Source Texts, Many Readers: On Translating Peter Ackroyd’s The Death of King Arthur
The article discusses the problems encountered by the Polish translator of Peter Ackroyd’s The Death of King Arthur, a modernized version of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. Since Ackroyd’s text itself is derivative, and its source text has yet to receive a Polish translation, the translator faces the problem of negotiating between, effectively, two source texts. Both the source and the target texts are also situated within a significant context, namely their readers’ horizon of expectations as regards Arthurian myth. The translation is likely to fill a very different niche in the target literary system, with a readership and reception likely to be markedly different from those intended by the author and, possibly, even by the Polish publishers. The paper describes how the complex nature of the source text (as a reflection of Malory, a creation of Ackroyd, and a contribution to Arthurian myth) as well as target readership influence specific translation decisions. These encompass: attitude to Malory’s work as a secondary source text, degree and type of archaic stylization, and usage of terminology attempting at faithfulness and historic verisimilitude or, conversely, readability and conformity with dominant poetics, as reinforced by the forces of patronage.
KeywordsSource Text Referee Group Reader Group Target Text Casual Reader
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