Aspects of Translation, English Literature & Culture

November 2019 - July 2020

This unique course provides you with regular practice in the skills of translating authenthic texts from German into English. It gives you the opportunity to activate, to further improve and enrich your knowledge and command of English language and culture. To benefit fully from this discussion-based course, your current level of English should be equivalent to approximately that of the Cambridge CAE exam. If you are unsure of your present level, use the free grading service the Cambridge Institut provides.

The theme of the new course is


In times of nationalistic rhetoric and xenophobia, it is critical to continue listening to the voices of those who come from other places, foreign traditions, different religions, diverse ideologies and ways of living, and landscapes dissimiliar from our own. Novels by immigrant writers are essential to not only the beauty, diversity, expansion, and evolution of literature, they are also integral elements to culture as a whole – reminding us of all the ways we are different and of what we have in common, expanding the perspectives and frames of reference we are able to hold in our minds, and creating awareness of the things we might never understand about one another, but still have a responsibility to leave space for anyway.

Though all the 7 writers that make up this course are immigrants to their places of residence, or come from immigrant families, they are not just ‘immigrant writers’. They are simply writers – great writers – who are transforming English literature.

Apart from the opportunity you will be given to discuss and write essays on the books, the course provides you with regular practice in the skill of translating cultural texts from German into English. The course-leader is Philip Moore. You are invited to attend the course either from 17.15 - 19.15 on Tuesday evenings, or from 16.30 - 18.30 on Friday evenings, beginning on Tuesday 5 November 2019 and Friday 8 November 2019, respectively. The course ends in July 2020.


The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad was born on 3 December 1857 in Poland and granted British nationality on 19 August 1886. He wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of what he saw as an impassive, inscrutable universe. Writing near the height of the British Empire, Conrad drew, among other things, on his native Poland's national experiences and on his own experiences in the French and British merchant navies, to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world, including imperialism and colonialism, and that explore the human psyche.

Set in London in 1886, the story follows the life of a secret agent Mr. Adolph Verloc, who owns a shop in Soho, where he deals in pornographic materials and espionage. When Verloc is assigned, in an anarchist plot, to plant a bomb at Greenwich Observatory, his plans go terribly wrong and his family have to deal with the tragic repercussions of his actions. The Secret Agent communicates an ironic view of human affairs, presenting a corrupt London underworld of terrorists, grotesques and fanatics. With the depiction of people gripped by fear of the terrorists living in their midst, Conrad’s dark satire on the English society is concerned not just with politics, but with the fate of ordinary people.

Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys was born in 1890 on the Caribbean island of Dominica, of a Welsh father and a Creolian mother. Rhys was educated in Dominica until the age of 16, when she was sent to England to live with an aunt, as her relations with her mother were difficult. Her novels and short stories are marked by a sense of exile, loss, and alienation. Despite critical acclaim at the end of her life, Rhys died in 1979 still doubting the merit of her work.

Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Antoinette is caught in a patriarchal society in which she fully belongs neither to Europe nor to Jamaica, driving her towards madness. Wide Sargasso Sea is a feminist and anti-colonial response to Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, exploring the power of relationships between men and women and developing postcolonial themes, such as racism, displacement, and assimilation.

Small Island, Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy was born in London in 1956 to Jamaican parents. She began writing in her mid-30s after her father died. It was not a therapeutic attempt to deal with her loss, but rather a need to understand where she came from. Her work explores topics related to British Jamaicans and how they acquire racial, cultural and national identities. 

Small Island is a story based on four main characters—Hortense, Queenie, Gilbert and Bernard—told from each of their points of view. Mainly set in 1948, it tells of Jamaican immigrants, who, escaping economic hardship on their own "small island", move to England. The novel focuses on the narratives of Gilbert and Hortense as they adjust to life in England, as well as the connections that are established between all of the characters.  

Sour Sweet, Timothy Mo

Timothy Peter Mo was born in Hong Kong in 1950, to a Cantonese father and an English mother. He was educated in Hong Kong and England. He emerged in the 1980s as one of the most important novelists writing about bi-cultural diversity, reflecting both his Anglo-Chinese background and his concerns for the effects of imperialism and colonial rule in South-East Asia. 

Sour Sweet is the story of a Chinese immigrant family living in London. It was shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize. This novel explores the clans and conflicts of Soho’s Chinatown, where the Chen family arrive and want to succeed as restaurateurs in the 1960s. No family can survive for long without encountering the Triads. 

Never Let Me Go, Kazua Ishiguro

Kazua Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, and his family moved to the UK when he was five. Growing up in a Japanese family in the UK was crucial to his writing, as it enabled him, he says, to see things from a different perspective to that of many of his English peers. In 2017, the Swedish Academy awarded Ishiguro the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing him as a writer "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are being watched closely and are often told about the importance of producing art and of being healthy. However, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it. The story is narrated by Kathy, who attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the school and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. Never Let Me Go is a combination of mystery, love story, a critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society.  

White Teeth, Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith was born in Willesden, in the north-west London borough of Brent, to a Jamaican mother and an English father. Smith's mother grew up in Jamaica and emigrated to England in 1969. While at university, Smith earned money as a jazz singer, and wanted to become a journalist. Despite earlier ambitions, literature emerged as her principal interest.

At the centre of White Teeth are two North London families—one headed by Archie Jones, the other by Archie's best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. The histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing the cultural identity, history, and hope in different generations of the two families. Set against London’s racial and cultural history, White Teeth deals with the modern-life disasters and expectations, while embracing the comedy of daily existence.  

The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai

Kiran Desai is the daughter of Anita Desai, who herself was short-listed for the Booker Prize on three occasions. Kiran was born in Delhi, then spent the early years of her life in Pune and Mumbai. She left India at 14, lived in England with her mother before moving to the United States, where she studied creative writing at Columbia University. In January 2015, The Economic Times, India's leading business publication, listed her as one of "20 most influential global Indian women".

At the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas is a crumbling, isolated mansion, home to three people, each dreaming of another time. The Inheritance of Loss shows the internal conflicts in India between groups, while also showing a conflict between past and present. With a major theme closely related to colonialism and the effects of post-colonialism, the novel depicts the loss of identity among leading Indians and the way it travels through generations as a sense of loss. 


When & How much

1 x per week Tue 17.15 - 19.15 670 € / Course*
1 x per week Fri 16.30 - 18.30 670 € / Course*


* - Note:Payment is also possible in 2 instalments of 335 €

(1st instalment due 5 November 2019, 2nd instalment due 16 March 2020) 


2019-2020 course dates

from to  
05.11.2019 07.07.2020 late registration possible
08.11.2019 10.07.2020 late registration possible

Course details

Group-size 6 - 12

Course-members are asked to read the following titles, which are obtainable as a set from our Reception. They will be discussed in the order given below

‘The Secret Agent’  by Joseph Conrad (Penguin Classics)

‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys (Penguin Student Edition)

‘Small Island’ by  Andrea Levy (Tinder Press)

‘Sour Sweet’ by Timothy Mo (Paddleless Press)

‘Never Let Me Go’ by  Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber)

‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith (Penguin Books)

‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai (Penguin Books)   

The above titles are obtainable at our reception at 58 € a set. As the size of each group is limited, prompt enrolment is recommended.

The course-leader is Philip Moore.

How to register

To benefit fully from this discussion-based course, your current passive level of English should be equivalent to approximately that of the C1 Advanced (CAE) C1 (CEFR).

If you are unsure of your present level, it can be determined by the free grading service the Cambridge Institut provides (45 min. writing + 10 min speaking test, please register at Reception).

Daily Mon – Thu 9.00 H – 19.30 H
Fri 9.00 H – 13.00 H
  14.00 H – 18.00 H

No appointment is required to take the grading test. Please check our opening hours in August and in the Winter Holidays

Register now


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