Although we don’t often get involved in large literary translation projects, it’s amazing to see just how many “classic” stories originated from other languages.
Interestingly, Gabriel Garcia Marquez once admitted that his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” was better in the English translation, than in his original Spanish!
To celebrate this diversity of literature from around the globe, we’ve compiled 4 lists that cover a huge amount of books that you’ve possibly heard of, maybe read but potentially didn’t realise came from a foreign language source:
- The 20 Best Books in Translation You’ve Never Read
- 68 “Best Translated Novels”
- 50 Works of Fiction in Translation That Every English Speaker Should Read
- 100 Best Novels, in Translation, Since 1900
Inspiring the next Global Generation
It’s not just adult fiction that is translated, many famous children’s books are too!
Unfortunately there are less than you might think.
In this show on BBC 6 Music, Cerys Matthews interviews Adam Freudenheim, the publisher and MD of Pushkin Press. He talks about his mission in delighting younger readers with some superb pieces of children’s fiction that are just being translated into English now, despite huge international success.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04jtnlq – From 31:05 – 47:43 (Combined with music and news)
The Top 20 Literature Translations
Even though we’ve now translated over 52 million words for 1,100 clients – there are still a number of books that put even our statistics into the shade!
Below are the top 20 pieces of fiction, ordered by number of languages they’ve been translated into:
|Title||Author||Year of Publication||Number of Language Translations||Source Language|
|The Little Prince||Antoine de Saint Exupéry||1943||216||French|
|Andersen’s Fairy Tales||Hans Christian Andersen||1835–1852||153||Danish|
|Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea||Jules Verne||1870||147||French|
|The Adventures of Asterix||René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo||1959–2010||112||French|
|The Adventures of Tintin||Hergé||1929–1976||96||French|
|The Alchemist||Paulo Coelho||1988||67||Portuguese|
|Harry Potter||J. K. Rowling||1997||67||English|
|The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn||Mark Twain||1885||65||English|
|Pippi Longstocking||Astrid Lindgren||1945||64||Swedish|
|Kalevala||Elias Lönnrot (compiler)||1835/1849||61||Finnish|
|My Name Is Red||Orhan Pamuk||1998||60||Turkish|
|Sherlock Holmes||Arthur Conan Doyle||1887||60||English|
|The Diary of a Young Girl||Anne Frank||1947||60||Dutch|
|The Good Soldier Švejk||Jaroslav Hašek||1923||58||Czech|
|Things Fall Apart||Chinua Achebe||1958||50||English|
|El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha||Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra||1615||48||Spanish|
|The Story of San Michele||Axel Munthe||1929||>45||English|
|The Stranger||Albert Camus||1942||45||French|
How many have you read?
How many did you think were written originally English?
This shows the art and nuance of great translation, the story and context remains despite the language change.