The goal of translation is to establish a relation of equivalence of intent between the source and target texts (that is to say, to ensure that both texts communicate the same message), while taking into account a number of constraints. These constraints include context, the rules of grammar of both languages, their writing conventions, their idioms.
In her well-known study on stylistic approaches to translation, Jean Boase-Beier* writes as follows:
“Above all, a cognitive stylistic approach has suggested not only that literary translation is first and foremost the translation of style but also that the translated text is a type of writing different from the non-translated text.“
“The essential difference that has emerged is that a translated text will multiply the voices in the text, will give more scope for the reader’s engagement than did the original, and will make the reader’s search for cognitive contexts in which to understand the text harder, more prolonged, and more rewarding. While a non-literary translation will be primarily a set of instructions, or a critical work, or a report, or an example of whatever text type it belongs to, a literary translation, especially if it is informed by stylistic awareness, will be a more literary text than an untranslated text.”
Ultimately, literary translation is an artistic endeavor, and as such, can be enormously rewarding intellectually.
*Boase-Beier, Jean (2006). Stylistic approaches to translation. Translation Theories Explored. Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, pp. viii, 176, £19.50. ISBN 1-900650-98-3