Translating Humorous Literature

Translation Strategies in “Come vivere in un appartamento” by K. R. G. Browne and H. W. Robinson


  • Salvatore M. Ciancitto Università di Catania



English linguistics, translation studies, translating humour, W.H. Robinson, English literature


How to Live in Flat is a book written in 1936 by Kenneth R.G. Browne and illustrated by Heath W.  Robinson, a well-known artist of the age, famous for having illustrated Andersen’s books but also for his sketches and drawings of fabulous machines and gadgets invented to solve every day little problems in a cumbersome and improbable manner. This book is the first of a series produced by the two artists; each volume of the series has the form of a handbook full of suggestions and advice for specific hobbies (How to Make a Garden Grow, 1938) or to deal with the problems related to marriage and married life (How to be a Perfect Husband 1937). Translating these texts tackles three types of difficulties and constraints: first, their chronological and cultural distance (England between the two World Wars); secondly, their humorous and ironical style used by Browne, as a writer, and by Robinson, as an illustrator; finally, the presence of illustrations which depict episodes of the narrative, thus creating a sort of dialogue between the written and the pictorial texts. This study stems from the translation of the first book of the series, How to Live in a Flat, and intends to discuss and explicit the translation choices made in order to recreate the equivalent humorous effect in the target text and on the target audience, which are both culturally and chronologically distant from the source text.


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