Talking About Books . . .


Amy Weiss-Meyer wrote an article in The Atlantic about a series of books, the Dear America series for girls, that had quite an impact on her as an adolescent.  She makes the point that even though the major characters in the books are fictional, ordinary people, they gave her a sense of historical events that she didn’t get from history books.  She also mentions a similar series for boy called My Name Is America.

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If Captain Ahab or Katniss Everdeen ate Chinese food, what messages would their fortune cookies contain?  That’s the premise of an entertaining article from Quirk Books.

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Translating a book from one language to another can be difficult, but translating J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series from English into other languages posed some unique challenges.  For instance, how do you translate Hogwarts, the name of the school that Harry attended, into other languages?  How do you translate Slitherin, the name of one of the four houses at Hogwarts in a way that maintains the idea of a slithering snake without using the word “slithering” in your translation?  And what do you do about the names of various characters in the novels?  Why did Albus Dumbledore remain unchanged in some translations, and changed in others?  Albus Dumbledore became Albus Silente in the Italian translation, but what does the Italian word silente have to do with Dumbledore?  He was not at all “silent.”  And speaking of names, why did Tom Riddle’s name become Tom Elvis Jedusor in the French translation?

A 2007 article by Sarah Dillon addresses the problems of translating Harry Potter both in the article she wrote, and through the links to other articles that she provided.  One of those links takes us to an excellent Wikipedia article entitled “Harry Potter in Translation.”  Dillon’s article and the linked articles are quite enjoyable and informative regardless of your interest in the series.

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“Raised Roman Catholic in Protestant England, he was perennially unhappy with his appearance, especially his spherical figure, and beset by multiple fears: of heights, policemen, imprisonment and, simply, other people. Even after he was well-established in a job with quasi-dictatorial powers — movie director — he “still did not like to cross the studio floor in case a stranger came up to him.’”

Alfred Hitchcock, the subject of the above quote was a very complex man, and Peter Ackroyd’s brief biography of him is well worth reading according to Dennis Drabelle.  You can read Drabelle’s review of Alfred Hitchcock here.

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The National Book Award finalists for 2016 have been announced (along with the longlist selections that did not make the final cut). The awards will be made on November 16th.


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