City Research Online

Translating violence in crime fiction

Seago, K. (2018). Translating violence in crime fiction. Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, 26(6), pp. 916-929. doi: 10.1080/0907676X.2017.1407347


Translatorial and editorial intervention in the handling of taboo topics or material considered sensitive in the target culture has been well established, especially in the translation of genre literature. These have been discussed in the context of explicit censorship and of self-censorship. Since 2000, authors and academics have articulated growing concern over the escalation of explicit violence in Anglo-American crime fiction; the present article investigates how this controversial textual staging of violence is mediated in the German translation of Val McDermid’s Wire in the Blood series. Focusing on the representation of physical violence, I consider to what extent the translator negotiates (or identifies) what the expectancy norms are when norm-validating authorities such as publishers and reader reception promote violent content and representations, but critical and cultural reception (academics, authors, cultural pundits) on the other hand problematise and oppose such issues or representations. The first three novels of the series have been translated by three different translators, and results indicate that it is the translator’s positionality and genre expectations that shape their translation decisions, rather than public concerns over violence.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in 'Perspectives' on 27 December 2017, available online:
Publisher Keywords: crime fiction, self-censorship, violence, genre
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Text - Accepted Version
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