Guest Post: What Exactly Is Literary Translation? by Lisa Carter

At the ATA‘s 54th Annual Conference in San Antonio last fall, I had a chance to chat with Lisa Carter of Intralingo, one of my favorite blogs on literary translation. One thing led to another, and we got to thinking about how everyone probably defines “literary translation” differently. Lisa tackles the question of “What is literary translation?” in her online course First Steps in Literary Translation, and I tackle it whenever people wander into my office asking “What do you do in here, anyway?”

So hey–why not each have a go at it and let our readers share their thoughts, too? And lo, a guest post exchange was born. Please welcome acclaimed Spanish>English translator Lisa Carter as she gives us her take! (You can see mine on her blog at


What exactly is literary translation?

By Lisa Carter


Have you ever asked yourself this question? I have. And I’ve asked it of others, too. Quite often. The answer to this one simple question is never as straightforward as it would seem it should be. You see, the answer changes, depending on who you talk to and when you talk to them.

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