in Translation

Stories with intriguing, twisted plots seldom fail to fascinate bookworms all over the world, no matter what language they were originally written in. Today on Simply CSOFT, we’ll highlight the five most popularly translated novels which transcended their linguistic audience and have since captured the hearts of booklovers around the world.

Novels piles

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

A classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea has been translated into 147 languages. The novel was adapted to film in 1953, along with many of Verne’s novels including Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. Often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction,” Verne is the third most translated author of all time, behind Disney Productions and Agatha Christie.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Almost 150 years after its first publication, Alice‘s out-of-this-world adventures in Wonderland continue to spur our imagination and inspire the likes of cartoonist Walt Disney and Hollywood director Tim Burton. The novel, written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, is the most frequently quoted book in the world after the Bible, Koran and Shakespeare’s plays and poems. It has also been translated into over 125 languages and has inspired numerous stage, film and television adaptations. One of the greatest challenges faced by the book’s translators is conveying Dodgson’s imaginative English— its word-plays, alliterations, and word-creations—in the target language.

The Alchemist

The Alchemist was originally written in Portuguese by Brazilian-born author Paulo Coelho. It has been released in 170 countries and translated into 80 languages, setting the Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author. The first edition of the Alchemist was such a flop that the publisher decided not to reprint it. It wasn’t until after the French version of the book found its way to the top of the best seller list in France in the early 1990s that other international publishers started to take notice.

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Harry Potter

Despite concerns for its increasingly dark elements, Harry Potter has left both children and adults alike spellbound. As of July 2013, J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece has sold close to 450 million copies and has been translated into 73 languages, making it one of the bestselling novels in history. Translators of the series reportedly faced many challenges in transmitting the original meanings of some of the made-up mgical words, acronyms, cultural elements, jokes and riddles. Several translation strategies used included copying names with hidden meanings without explaining its original symbolism or replacing them with other native words that convey the same meaning.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Despite criticism over its coarse language and controversial content, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is considered a classic of American literature and has been translated into more than 60 languages. The novel, written by American author Mark Twain, received generally negative reviews when it was first published in the U.S. in 1885. Critics accuse Twain of depicting its protagonist, Huck Finn, as racist and deplore the book’s frequent use of racial slurs. Over a century after its first publication, Huckleberry Finn continues to generate controversy and is one of the most frequently taught and banned books in the United States.

If reading is your newfound hobby and you don’t know where to start, we hope today’s blog post will give you some ideas. You can also choose from a list of 50 books that changed the world, featuring a range of genres including politics, science, society and religion.

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