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Children’s literature in translation

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Abstract

This paper considers an early international publishing franchise, in which titles published in French by Gautier-Languereau for their children’s Série 15 were purchased by foreign publishing houses, translated, then marketed in Portugal, Spain and Italy. The books contain short stories (15 in each) that may originally have been intended for adult readers but have now been appropriated by literary editors for a juvenile audience, thus moving into the category of ‘crossover’ fiction. In some cases, the original story was published in English, translated into French, then re-translated from French into Portuguese or Spanish, hence the term ‘double crossing’. This process raises a number of questions about the nature of intercultural transfer, children’s responses – or responsiveness – to foreign literature, and the status accorded to children’s literature in general. An examination of some of the Portuguese translations seems to corroborate Zohar Shavit’s view (1999) that translators working with a supposedly minor or peripheral genre do not hesitate to modify or adapt their source text. While purists might wish to accuse the translator of committing an act of betrayal, as in the time-honoured adage traduttore, traditore, there is no evidence to suggest that the youthful readers of the Portuguese Série 15 felt especially defrauded or cheated in their reading experience, a reaction which may bear out Paul Hazard’s (1960) belief in a universal republic of children. Nowadays there is a great deal of theorising of children’s literature, much of it by educationalists or ‘mediadores’, some from a feminist perspective, some from the perspective of translation and cultural studies. Scholars have made in-depth studies, written essays and monographs, contributed articles to encyclopaedias and histories of children’s literature, and tackled a broad range of issues

References

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