In the first part of this article, I discuss two essential concerns regarding the analysis of
the translation of literary irony, one of them conceptual and the other methodological.
What is (literary) irony and how can it be defined? How can irony-shifts between the
source-text and the target-text most advantageously be described and analysed? In the
second part of the paper a heuristic construct, the ironic effect, is proposed. The
advantages of this methodological construct are enumerated: it enables to address
simultaneously text-analytical and translational descriptive issues. The heuristic
instrument is then illustrated with excerpts taken from twentieth century Spanish-
American literature and their French, American and Dutch translations.