Hewson’s Procedure for Criticism

Hewson’s Procedure

Hewson’s model for criticism contains six steps: collecting preliminary data
constructing a critical framework for analyzing passages on a micro-and Meso-level moving from the micro-and Meso levels to the macro-level identifying macro-level effects and interpretative paths in the translation to form a hypothesis about its nature and testing the newly formed hypothesis on other passages.

The preliminary data consist of any relevant information about the source and target texts and author and translator, as well as paratextual and peritextual elements of the studied texts (introductions, footnotes, translator’s notes, etc.) and existing critical texts about the work – everything that may influence readers’ potential interpretations of the text. The gathered information situates the source and target texts in their cultural context, giving the critic a solid basis for his argument.

The critical framework aims to “identify the key stylistic characteristics of the
work” and to “explore the underpinnings of major potential interpretative paths”. The framework is clearly based on the source text, where the critic notes the elements (s)he deems important to the work. The goal is not, however, to produce an interpretation, as this would clash with Lecercle and Hewson’s criticism of ‘true’
interpretations. Instead, the critic can “identify a limited number of elements that appear to have particular importance when interpretations are envisaged – and whose treatment by the translator is thus deemed to be important”. These elements in the source text act as markers for examining the target text.

Once the critical framework has been established, the critic collects all
corresponding passages in the target language(s), examine the translational choices and make “provisional notes about their potential effects” (27) – step three in the model. Hewson stresses the temporary character of this analysis; it serves purely as an initial reading, allowing the critic to focus on those choices that seem important to the structure and interpretation of the text. The result of the analysis is “a series of meso-level observations regarding the effects of the different translational choices”.

The critic then moves from the micro and meso-levels to the macro level,
forming an initial hypothesis about the translation as a whole. Once this hypothesis has been tested on further passages, the translation is placed in one of the four categories “divergent similarity”, “relative divergence”, “radical divergence” or “adaptation”.

Hewson’s exclusive focus on the source text when forming the critical framework
has one clear flaw, as it ignores potentially problematic elements that only become visible in translation. These ‘invisible’ elements may seem insignificant to the interpretation of work when considered in the source text alone, but their translations may dramatically influence the interpretative potential of the target text. For example, characters in Norwegian Wood always address the protagonist by his last name ワタナベ (Watanabe), as is common in Japanese and not likely to strike the critic as particularly important to the interpretation of the text; however, translators may choose to instead have characters address the protagonist by his first name Toru.

If a translator chooses to use Toru, the choice of who says it – all characters or only some – and when it is said – when characters first meet or only later on – may influence how readers interpret the relationship between characters. This element would have been overlooked in Hewson’s model because it only gains its complex interpretative potential through the act of

The blind spot in Hewson’s model can be remedied by including a target text-
oriented analysis in the construction of the critical framework. After analyzing the

source text, the critic will be aware of its stylistic characteristics and major potential interpretative paths. Based on this knowledge, the critic can then analyze the target text and identify additional elements and passages that may be important to its interpretative potential. Note that this analysis differs from step 3, which is an in-depth micro-level analysis: the analysis proposed as an extension of step 2 is a global one, based on a superficial reading of the target text(s). This thesis expands upon Hewson’s model by including notable passages from the target texts in which the name of the protagonist appears. The selection of passages will be discussed in further detail under Methodology.

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