Forget about the Crime, Crime Fiction is all about Culture
: Translated Contemporary Crime Fiction as Intercultural Narratives: Constructing National Cultures through the Act of Translation

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis focuses on a neglected field in academia: the translation of contemporary crime fiction and the cultural transfers taking place as part of the translation process. Despite the global popularity of crime fiction, its translation remains an understudied area, a gap which I seek to address.
This thesis argues that contemporary crime novels function as key cultural narratives and that translated crime novels are, therefore, key intercultural narratives. Taking the stance that the appetite for and popularity of contemporary (translated) crime novels largely stem from their local and cultural grounding, I argue that authors and translators fulfil clear cultural agendas in their texts. This primarily involves representing, showcasing and celebrating elements of a country’s or a nation’s cultural identity.
Focusing on British and French contemporary crime fiction, this thesis is structured around four case studies, each analysing three novels by Robert Galbraith, Ian Rankin, Fred Vargas and Pierre Lemaitre, and their French/English translations. My textual analysis focuses on the strategies used by the translators to depict, convey and showcase key cultural elements pertaining to social class, Scottish national identity, the identity of Normandy and the use of irony by and towards the French police.
Using an updated framework of eight strategies for the translation of cultural references, I argue that translators fulfil the role of intercultural ambassadors, as they not only mediate between cultures but also clearly reframe their texts to successfully convey and transmit elements of French and British cultures to their target readerships. This is primarily done through an overall strategy of preservation with explanations being provided to their target readers, although other adaptation strategies are also used and some translation decisions are, I show, not always successful.
The thesis concludes with the findings that translators generally successfully convey the cultural references, whilst signalling their presence in the texts. As they actively seek do so, they resolutely act as intercultural ambassadors, making their texts function as successful and popular key intercultural narratives.
Date of Award30 May 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorChristine Berberich (Supervisor), Jonathan Paul Evans (Supervisor) & Sarah Berthaud (Supervisor)

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