Inside Animalinside, Ottilie Mulzet's Translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Állatvanbent


  • Peter Sherwood



László Krasznahorkai, Ottilie Mulzet, translation from Hungarian into English, holistic translation criticism, ÁllatVanBent, Animalinside


László Krasznahorkai is now the best-known Hungarian writer in the English-speaking world (perhaps in the world, period). But what is the precise nature of the relationship between his Hungarian works and their English translations that have been, on the whole, so well received in Britain and especially the USA? This article takes a very close linguistic look at one his shorter works, ÁllatVanBent, in a version by Ottilie Mulzet, co-recipient with George Szirtes of the translators’ share of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize, which recognized Krasznahorkai for his “achievement in fiction on the world stage.”  I argue that Ottilie Mulzet’s translation is in a hybrid English that in some places evidences a misunderstanding of the Hungarian, and in others claims to be a foreignized, “Krasznahorkai-English” that is, however, insufficiently justified by the original. More broadly, the article thus takes issue with the increasingly widely held view that the translator is not merely a co-author but enjoys a kind of authorial autonomy that implies that the translation can be judged without close reference to the original. As Krasznahorkai’s known views on translation suggest the acceptance of this notion, he is therefore, to a degree, complicit in the partial misrepresentation (and hence misconstrual) of his work.






Thematic Cluster: English Translations from Hungarian: Expanding Genres, Deepening Approaches. Guest Ed: Peter Sherwood