How Romance Translators Write Themselves and Their Readers into Afterwords

Publication year
Departmental Bulletin Paper

Here are the first two paragraphs:

To ensure the positive reception of translated books, which hail from distant cultures and languages, publishers pay particular attention to how translated books are framed. The paratext, “a consciously crafter threshold for a text which has the potential to influence the way(s) in which the text is received” (Batchelor 142), can engage with readers’ expectations to make a book attractive and to guide how it is read. While some publishing cultures play down the fact of translation in this regard (see for example Norberg, and McRae), in Japanese publishing translators feature eminently in the paratext, particularly as authors of yakusha atogaki (translator afterwords).

Commonly found in translated books regardless of genre, yakusha atogaki is a flexible text type that can perform a wide range of functions. The most significant factor in what functions it performs is the translators’ agency in choosing what and how to write. This ranges along a spectrum, from translators following the atogaki “formula” and presenting informative but impersonal content, to placing their own persona at the center of the text as interested, storied characters. Another important factor is the genre of the book to which the paratext belongs, whether this is “capital-L Literature” (Carter 431) or one of the many genres of fiction and non-fiction. The “romance novel,” generally considered one of the most lowbrow genres, is counterintuitively one of the most likely to contain a translator afterword in Japanese translation. As such, it begs to be examined from the point of view of translator’s agency, particularly to find out how Japanese translators of romance novels engage with their readers through writing yakusha atogaki.

Note that the author mentions one of their earlier works, which explores the lack of afterwords in Harlequin category romances. I have not given this a separate entry since the information is forms a relatively small proportion of that work. However, here are the details, along with a link:

Bilodeau, Isabelle. “Discursive Visibility: Quantifying the Practice of Translator Commentary in Contemporary Japanese Publishing.” Emerging Research in Translation Studies: Selected Papers of the CETRA Research Summer School, 2013, pp. 1-24.