- The Translation of Children’s Literature: A Reader (Topics in Translation 31)
This useful reader, published in the series Topics in Translation (Susan Bassnett and Edwin Gentzler, editors), compiles seventeen articles and essays contributed between 1978 and 2003 by specialists who researched a broad range of textual, visual, and cultural issues in the field of translation and/or international children's literature. As stated in the introduction to the volume, "its purpose is to bring together, and make readily available to students and scholars, English-language journal articles and chapters from published books that reflect the development and range of writing on the translation and international exchange of books over the last 30 years" (4). It represents the first comprehensive collection of a body of critical research focusing on the point of confluence between the fields of translation studies and children's literature, with the underlying and omnipresent question being, "What is it exactly that we do when we translate literature?"
Five parts provide the frame for the selection of articles. In the first part, four authors (Eithne O'Connell, Zohar Shavit, Marisa Fernández López, and Tiina Puurtinen) look into theoretical approaches to the translation for children in the past thirty years. Part 2, with three contributors (Birgit Stolt, Riitta Oittinen, and Emer O'Sullivan), examines the processes of narrative communication between the translator and the child as a reader. Part 3 (Emer O'Sullivan, Mieke K. T. Desmet, and Gillian Lathey) focuses on the intertextual games that come into play between pictures, texts, and translations. Part 4 (Emer O'Sullivan, who contributes her third article [End Page 204] of the volume, David Blamires, Karen Seago, and Nancy K. Jentsch) features four well-known international classics of children's literature (Pinocchio, the tales of the Brothers Grimm, "Sleeping Beauty," and the Harry Potter series) and examines a number of cross-cultural influences on their translations. Finally, Part 5 turns to the translators themselves (J. D. Stahl, Cathy Hirano, and Anthea Bell) and the many challenges they face in lending their voices to the enterprise of children's literature. A complete reference section at the end of the reader, with a listing of all the primary texts and critical literatures and a comprehensive index, makes this collection of essays a veritable goldmine for any student or scholar of translation studies and children's literature.
Despite the progress that has been made in understanding children's texts from other countries through the medium of translation and their importance, the need for research into and dissemination of the diversity of children's literatures is still acute. All contributors to this volume indicate in their own ways how important it is to pay more attention to less well-known, non-European children's literatures. Also in spite of Paul Hazard's optimistic affirmation of the existence of "a world republic of childhood," facts force us to challenge his notion of an internationalism of children's literatures. Translations of the "children's classics" are not representative of all continents, as illustrated by the examples used throughout this reader, which draws heavily from the European tradition: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Travels of Babar, Pinocchio, Pippi Longstocking, Struwwelpeter, Heidi, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, "Sleeping Beauty," and "Cinderella" just to name a few. Moreover, each article or book chapter in this collection forces us to think about what is at work in the act of translating and what a "faithful" translation should be. A large spectrum of possible modifications or alterations enables the passage of a text in its original language into a different one, in a different cultural context, for a different target audience. Adaptations, deletions, additions, amplifications, prettifications, and many other words ending in "-tion" are all part of the translating norms. Articles like Lopez's (Part 1, 41–53) underlines what Jack Zipes would call the "civilizing" approach of education, which dictates the choices of books to translate while making a liberal use of censorship. Each culture has diverging expectations of...