Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lost in translation...

by Carola Dunn

I've just heard from my editor that the first ten Daisy Dalrymple mysteries are going to come out in Polish.  Exciting news, and it made me reflect on the various translations of my books that have come out over the years.

 Daisy has previously appeared only in English and German. The German publisher brought out several editions of 8 of the first 9 books, skipping the 8th, and then stopped. The titles all began Miss Daisy und... but each edition had a different cover, in several different styles, and some came out in both paperback and hardcover, others only in paperback.
 I'm inclined to think the wide variety of styles just served to confuse readers!


Many of my Regencies were translated, into French, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Czech (author: Carola Dunnova!), Italian and Portuguese (sadly I never got copies of those two), and the pride of my collection, Mayhem and Miranda in Hebrew.  It has a cover that can only be described as appropriate for a "bodice-ripper," which the book certainly is not. And the only page I can read is the copyright page, where they spelled my name wrong.

I've read the French translations. I have to say Regency slang does not translate well. But then, the kind of word-play I'm inclined to indulge in must be practically impossible to translate. What comes to mind is a play on the word "mill," which in Regency times was slang for a boxing match. In my book, the double meaning leads to a misunderstanding. As it was translated into French as "moulin,"--windmill or watermill--the misunderstanding was missing.

The translation that surprised me most was the German version of an anthology in which I had a novella. It went into four editions, three paperbacks and one hardcover, with new art for each.

I guess kittens are popular in Germany.


SuseADoodle said...

Books in translation that have a lot of word play in them can be difficult ... I was really surprised by a few books, kids books I think, by Walter Moers
that are chock-a-block full of wordplay but are translated into English; when a poem actually rhymes in the English version, I really do have to wonder about the translation and how close it is to the original and how much is out of the mind of the translator.
I think I would love to see the translation of Carrol's "'Twas brillig and brollag ..."

Carola Dunn said...

As Lewis Carroll invented all those words, they could leave them as is, I'd have thought. But inevitably verse loses either rhyme or rhythm or meaning in translation. I was rather proud of a translation I did of Yevtushenko's Babiy Yar--better IMHO than the one in a book I have--but I lost it years ago. Would love to be able to read Omar Khayyam in the original!

Carola Dunn said...

Well, what do you know, I went and looked on my Russian bookshelf and I do have a copy of my Babiy Yar!!

June Shaw said...

Wow, Carola, congratulations! How sweet is that!

June Shaw said...

Wow, Carola, congratulations! How sweet is that!

Jaden Terrell said...

No fair, Carola. You are making me crave kittens.