Foreign Voices and the Troubles: Northern Irish Fiction in French, German and Spanish Translation

  • Stephanie Schwerter


This article focuses on the translations of two well-known Troubles novels, Robert McLiam Wilson’s Eureka Street and Colin Bateman’s Divorcing Jack. Emerging from and reflecting the violent conflict which has blighted Northern Ireland, these books are very difficult to translate. The translators not only face the challenge of transposing local voices and concepts into a different cultural environment, they also have to deal with the particularly dark Northern Irish humour generated by such conflict. Not every translator, of course, has the opportunity to experience Northern Irish society at first hand, and a lack of local knowledge is often evident in their work. Dwelling on a number of examples, I set out to analyse the choices made by the different translators and explain the reasons why they might have opted for a specific translation in order to carry a specific local discourse across.


Translation Northern Ireland Eureka Street Divorcing Jack Troubles novels 


  1. Aguirre Oteiza, Daniel, trans. 1999. Eureka Street. By Robert McLiam Wilson. Barcelona: Tusquets.Google Scholar
  2. Bateman, Colin. 1995. Divorcing Jack. London: Headline.Google Scholar
  3. Kennedy-Andrews, Elmer. 2003. (De-)Constructing the North: Fiction and the Northern Ireland Troubles since 1969. Dublin: Four Courts Press.Google Scholar
  4. Kubiak, Michael, trans. 1996. Eine Nonne war sie nicht. By Colin Bateman. Bergisch Gladbach: Bastei Lübbe.Google Scholar
  5. Lebrun, Michel, trans. 1996. Divorce Jack! By Colin Bateman. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  6. Lefevere, André. 1992. Translating Literature. Practice and Theory in a Comparative Literature Context. New York: Modern Language Association of America.Google Scholar
  7. Magee, Patrick. 2001. Gangsters or Guerrillas? Representation of Irish Republicans in ‘Troubles Fiction’. Belfast: BTP Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Matthieussent, Brice, trans. 1997. Eureka Street. By Robert McLiam Wilson. Paris: Christian Bourgois Éditeur.Google Scholar
  9. Patterson, Don. 2006. Orpheus: A Version of Rilke. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  10. Schuenke, Christa, trans. 1999. Eureka Street, Belfast. By Robert McLiam Wilson. Frankfurt: Fischer.Google Scholar
  11. Uaredesign. Accessed 3 September 2013.Google Scholar
  12. Venuti, Lawrence. 2008. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Volkov, Solomon. 1988. Conversations with Joseph Brodsky. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. Who is Log. Accessed 3 September 2013.Google Scholar
  15. Wilson, Robert McLiam. 1996. Eureka Street. London: Vintage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Schwerter
    • 1
  1. 1.Université de ValenciennesValenciennesFrance

Personalised recommendations