Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kenneth Graham. Der Wind in den Weiden (1976)

     Kenneth Graham. Der Wind in den Weiden (1976) Translated by Harry Rowohlt. It’s odd to read Wind in the Willows in German. At first, I read this to see how the translator managed Graham`s cosy informal style, one carefully crafted to mimic the language of its intended audience of Young Readers. But very soon the tale itself captured me, as it did so many years ago when I first read it while recovering from the mumps. Well done. The illustrations are by the artist who drew the main cels for Yellow Submarine, but they lack the firmness and clarity of line found in that wonderful movie.
     A major problem when translating English into other languages is grammatical gender, which does affect how the reader imagines the fictive world. ‘Rat’ translates into ‘die Ratte’, feminine noun: it’s odd to read of a feminine Rat, who is so definitely an elder brother figure; much easier to imagine in the English version. At least ‘Toad’ translates into the masculine noun ‘Kröterich’. *** (2011)

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