’But the Story Itself Is Intact’ (or is it?): The Case of the English Translations of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

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’But the Story Itself Is Intact’ (or is it?): The Case of the English Translations of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

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Publication BookChapter
Title ’But the Story Itself Is Intact’ (or is it?): The Case of the English Translations of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils
Author(s) Sundmark, Björn
Date 2009
Editor(s) Epstein, Brett
English abstract
In the foreword to the first English translation of The Further Adventures of Nils (orig. 1907, transl. 1911) Velma Swanston Howard acknowledges that “some of the purely geographical matter in the Swedish original … has been eliminated” and that “with the author’s approval, cuts have been made where the descriptive matter was merely of local interest”. She concludes with the words: “But the story itself is intact”. Now, one can certainly sympathize somewhat with the translator and a presumptive international audience and feel that they should be spared some of the geo-trivia of the original. However, the first book, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1906, transl 1907), had not been subjected to the same kind of topographic cleansing, and it had still been a resounding success internationally. So, why the change of editorial practice? Even more troublesome: despite Howard’s protestations it is clear that what has been eliminated is not just “geographical matter”, but key scenes of great importance to the overall story, some of which have never been translated into English. In my paper I will focus on two of the most interesting elisions: the death and burial of Little Mats, and the pivotal actions in the Uppsala chapter. The latter episode does exist in an English version, but one based on an abridged and simplified version (1962/1989); the Little Mts-episode has never been translated as far as I know. I will discuss how Howard argues and negotiates the issues at stake with Lagerlöf in the light of their correspondence, material that has hitherto remained unexamined in the Royal Library collection in Stockholm.
Publisher Peter Lang
Host/Issue Nordic Lights: Translation in the Nordic Countries
ISBN 978-3-03911-849-6
Pages 167-180
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Aesthetic subjects::Literature
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::Languages and linguistics::Scandinavian languages
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/9562 (link to this page)

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