How, Why and to What Effect Dickens’ Great Expectations Has Been Translated Into Peter Careys’ Novel Jack Maggs.

Topics: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, Victorian era Pages: 5 (1562 words) Published: April 5, 2013
How, Why and To What Effect Dickens’ Great Expectations has been Translated into Peter Careys’ Novel Jack Maggs.

Translation is defined as a word, phrase or a text in another language that has a meaning that is equivalent to that of the original. It is also defined as a change in form or state of original text.

The translation that occurs between the two novels Great Expectations and Jack Maggs is called Intralingual translation, which is defined by Jackobson as “an interpretation from one text to another in the same language using different synonyms in order to convey the same message but in a different way.

There is not any one way to translate, that would enable the translator to translate perfectly. There will always be the loss of some information or the adding of other information during the process. Translation also occurs to help the original text to fit in with the changing times, to allow the original text to fall in with social, historical, cultural issues and influences.

Previous works may be translated because some people may feel that the original source has unanswered questions that has left the reader frustrated. Other works are translated to enable other characters point of view and to breathe new life into old forgotten books.

Peter Careys’ Jack Maggs is a translation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations but whereas Great Expectations is a piece of imperial work based on the English point of view written by an English man Jack Maggs is a post colonial piece that is based on the Australian point of view written by an American who was born in Australia.

Peter Carey borrows Dickens characters, stylistic techniques, narrative pace and depth. Carey does however shift the core focus from Pips/Henry Phipps to Magwitch/ Jack Maggs transferring the narrative voice away from Pip and given to Magwitch. Carey re-invents Magwitch into Jack Maggs, changing his name and his looks although they do however both have the same biography. Both characters have been cast out by Britain, only to return to their homeland to seek acceptance that they crave, yet neither character finds it. Both characters also seek to acquaint themselves with their ‘sponsored son’ Phillip Pirrip / Henry Phillips. Both were convicts, Magwitch was condemned for fraud whilst Jack Maggs was a professional thief of silver. Peter Carey reverses the roles of Magwitch and Phillip Pirrip as in Great Expectations Pip is a heroic gentleman and Magwitch is a complex and despicable convict that brings wealth and shame yet Peter Carey transforms the two roles and his character Jack Maggs is the heroic gentleman whilst Pip is a victim of English snobbery.

Whilst both characters are set out to re acquaint themselves with their English sponsor the reaction from Pip/Henry Phillips are different. Pip is grateful and is aware of Magwitch’s benevolence but in Jack Maggs, Henry Phillips is rude to Jack Maggs as he is not a true gentleman due to his history as a convict. Jack Maggs desire to be seen as an equal and not as a second class citizen is clear in Careys novel, Jack Maggs want to be rid of the stereo type that he has been stigmatized with due to his crimes and retributions and that despite the stigma that is attached to him, Jack Maggs can still be a gentleman as he believes it is impossible not to be a gentleman as he has raised a gentleman in Henry Phipps although Henry Phipps is portrayed as a negative version of the English version of gentleman he is a gentleman none the less due to only his wealth that gives him stature in the Victorian ideals of the middle classes . Jack Maggs believes to be a gentleman he must also act and to be perceived as a gentleman and that title does not come with wealth alone, Pip has the same belief in Great Expectations.

Carey’s Description of Jack Maggs is also completely different to the toothless dog that Magwitch is described a numerous times to be like by Pip in Great...

Bibliography: Boswell (2010) Authors Interviews [online] Powells Books : Oregon Available from
Carey, P (1997) Jack Maggs. Faber and Faber :London, Boston
Cohurn J (2002) Interplay between Dickens Great Expectations and Careys Jack Maggs [online] Queens University: Belfast. Available from
Dickens, C (1860) Great Expectations Penguin Group : London
Koval R (1997) Peter Carey Transcript [online] Brisbane Writing Festival. Radio National : Brisbane. Available at
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