Dr. Ted Dawson
Date of this Version
Krueger, Ashton. A Translation of Monika Helfer’s "Die Bagage" with Afterword. 28 July 2023.
This thesis is a literary translation of Austrian author Monika Helfer’s 2020 novel Die Bagage. The work tells the story of the Moosbrugger family during the First World War in a small village in Austria. A mix of memoir and imagined account come together in this work by Helfer as she narrates the story of her grandmother, Maria, who is the beauty of the village with seven children. When Josef, Maria’s husband, goes off to the battlefield, Maria and the children stay behind with the mayor watching over them. The village constantly concerns itself with what is happening with the Moosbruggers, also known as the riff-raff. When Georg from Hanover appears in Maria's life and then suddenly leaves, Maria becomes pregnant with Helfer’s mother, Grete, and almost no one believes she is the daughter of Josef, even Josef himself. What would come of the riff-raff? From a female perspective, Helfer recalls the past with her vivid imagination and descriptive language, drawing from anecdotes from her aunt Kathe and her personal experiences growing up with the baggage of being one of the riff-raff.
A critical translator’s afterword follows the translation. In this section, there are descriptions of the original work’s author and the novel’s literary context, an overview of the various techniques used in translating the novel, and the different challenges the translation posed. The challenges include the title, pacing, and tone as well as various technical grammar elements such as the special subjunctive. For each challenge posed, strategies used to overcome these difficulties are discussed. For the scholarly element, current literature from translation studies (namely Antonova, Castro, Guerra, Hariyanto, Hermans, Slavova and Phoenix, von Flotow, and Walinski) is referenced, examined, and alluded to throughout the writing of the afterword. Lastly, I will compare the newest 2023 British-published translation of the novel from Gillian Davidson to my American English translation, analyzing how a professional in the field dealt with the challenges I experienced.
Advisor: Ted Dawson