Turning Up the Volume on Translation: Transforming Narratives in the Work of Mercè Rodoreda


  • Daisy Isabelle Towers




This paper considers literary translation as a process that is both transformative and disruptive. Translation engenders movement, not only across languages, but it moves ideas from the centre to the periphery, and from the periphery to the centre. I argue that the translation of literature facilitates the movement and transfer of social narratives between languages and cultures, and in doing so, the very nature of these narratives is altered. Defining social narratives as “the stories we tell ourselves, not just those we tell other people, about the world(s) in which we live” (Baker 19), this paper considers how the properties of such narratives are transformed when translated for new audiences and readerships. Using the vocabulary of sound and volume, I identify and label social narratives on a spectrum of quiet and loud, moving away from previously used binary descriptions, in order to describe the power dynamics at play within world literature. I argue that the interaction between narratives in translation can be discussed in terms of amplification, muting, or silencing, in particular when considering the position and status of source and target languages. To demonstrate this new means with which to describe this process in translation, I take as a case study twentieth-century Catalan author Mercè Rodoreda’s novel La mort i la primavera (1986), and its English translation Death in Spring (2017), identifying how narratives interact and function across cultures, and how they may be made quieter or louder, in order to resonate with, or be ‘heard’ by new audiences.




How to Cite

Towers, Daisy Isabelle. 2023. “Turning Up the Volume on Translation: Transforming Narratives in the Work of Mercè Rodoreda”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts 34 (1). https://doi.org/10.2218/forum.1.9148.



Transfiction & Translation