The main source of difficulty in translating metaphors arises from the fact that metaphors are mainly associated with “indirectness” (Green, 1989, p. 124). This indirectness seems to increase in metaphors that involve references to previous cultural knowledge. Metaphors of this kind, which are referred to as ‘intertextual metaphors’, represent certain ideas by adopting references from literature, culture, history and/or heritage resources. Intertextual metaphors differ from other types of metaphors in many aspects.
The necessity to consider other types of metaphors that are more complicated and creative, such as intertextual metaphors, when researching metaphor translation seems even more relevant in the case of literary metaphors. This is because metaphors in a literary context “explicitly appeal to cultural traditions (e.g. through intertextual allusions)” (Biebuyck & Martens, 2011, p. 59). Numerous metaphor studies show that metaphors are essential literary devices in literary texts, particularly in fiction (see, e.g. Kruger, 1993; Al Salem, 2014).
Given the omnipresence of metaphor and intertextuality in novels and their essential literary functions in these types of texts, studying intertextual metaphors in the translation of novels could provide fresh and invaluable insights. After examining the present studies on the translation of metaphor, it seems that the current number of studies discussing intertextual metaphor in the translation of novels is still very inadequate. Therefore, my thesis will attempt to fill part of the gap in knowledge in this area by analysing Arabic intertextual metaphors and their English translations, which will be derived from a number of Arabic novels and their published English translations.