The New York Public Library has a new exhibit entitled The ABC of it: Why Children’s Books Matter that explores both the importance and potency of children’s literature. The exhibit draws from books over time and around the world, combining both well-known classics with lesser-known gems. Lewis Carroll’s famous “Beggar Girl” photograph of Alice Liddell is one of the items on display, and is also part of the slideshow for this NY Times article about the exhibit.
If you attend the exhibit, add a Comment to this post and tell us what you thought!
For many good reasons, Lewis Carroll’s classic is often chosen as a first text to translate into a new language or medium. Constructors of constructed languages and lovers of word-play have innate reasons to flock to Carroll’s text. Here’s a new “translation” of Alice in Wonderland into a language which is either pointlessly annoying, or an invaluable tool for strengthening your Scrabble skills. Every word of the classic 27,405 word text has been scrambled into an Alphagram (or, an aaaghlmpr, in Alphagrammish.) The apostles of this project claim that reading a “bkoo” is “not only fun, like solving a puzzle, but it also improves your ability to unscramble words and score higher in your favorite word games.”
The first page of “Aceil in addelnnorW,” from bkoo.org
Their blurb actually almost convinces that this could be an entertaining and mind-strengthening endeavor:
The thesis of this book is that Alphagram is a language (albeit more like Pig Latin than any natural language) that can be read, and whoever can read Alphagram can instantly spot anagrams. To learn Alphagram, we propose reading this bkoo of 27,405 words, including 2,576 distinct words. (To play this many words in Scrabble® would take a typical player thirty-five years at one game per week!) While reading the first chapter is challenging, afterwards you will find it reads like a classic translated into a familiar language. Several factors ease the learning curve: 1. Answers. Each page has answers on the back. 2. Context. It is much easier to find anagrams in context. For instance, “addelnnorW” is much easier to decipher after uncovering that it follows “Alice in….” 3. Repetition. Consider, for example, the word “thought,” which occurs 74 times in Alice in Wonderland. The first time you encounter “ghhottu,” it may take a while to unscramble (even with context), but later occurrences are easier as you naturally learn the language. oS ist abck, aelrx, adn ejnoy eht bkoo!
Aceil in addelnnorW: A Bkoo was translated by Cory Abbott sells for $12.95 on Amazon. Rachel Eley wrote to me, “Reading the examples on the website makes my brain feel like my hand feels when I use one of those grip strengtheners for climbers. It hurts but I can’t tell if that is because it good for me or bad for me.” I take back my earlier “pointlessly annoying” comment – Lewis Carroll probably would have loved this project. Meanwhile, we still wait for the first Pig Latin translation.
The superbly rendered, playful black and white illustrations of Gennady Kalinovskii have up to now only been available in editions by Detskaya Literatura published in Moscow: Wonderland in 1977, retold and introduced by Boris Zakhoder, and Looking-Glass in 1980, retold and introduced by Vladimir Orel. The publisher Studio “4+4” from Moscow has recently reprinted them in a larger art edition (21.5 cm x 32.5 cm vs. 17 cm x 22 cm), with paper board and cloth binding. They can be ordered (in English) directly from the editor, Elena Borisova, for $90 for both books, including postage, at email@example.com. The books can be mailed anywhere.
You can read about these editions of Wonderland and Looking-Glass on a Russian website; if your Russian is rusty, just click on the small image of the book at the bottom of the page and you can flip through it. Wonderland is ISBN 978-5-99-02284-8-1 and Looking-Glass is ISBN 978-5-9902284-5-0.
The United Nations
It has been some time since we mentioned the stream of new translations flowing from the fount of Evertype Publishing, but that is not because that stream has abated. Six first-time translations and a new Esperanto edition have been published since the start of this year alone.
This brings to eighteen the titles in Evertype’s list of Carroll Books in Translation. It is a great achievement and one that has us daydreaming about radically ambitious installation art involving the United Nations General Assembly Hall (see above), inflatable mushrooms and hundreds of schoolchildren from around the world. (Just imagine. . . )
The seven new titles are:
Nā Hana Kupanaha a ʻĀleka ma ka ʻĀina Kamahaʻo
Alice in Hawaiian translated by R. Keao NeSmith. (The Hawaiian language is spoken by less than 0.1% of state-wide population, but is still the daily language of all the residents of Ni’ihau, “the Forbidden Island.”)
Lès-Aventûres d’Alice ô Pèyis dès Mèrvèy
Alice in Borain Picard translated by André Capron. (Borain Picard is closely related to French and is spoken in parts of northern France and the Wallonia region of Belgium.)
La aventuras de Alisia en la pais de mervelias
Alice in Lingua Franca Nova translated by Simon Davies. (Lingua Franca Nova was constructed by Dr. C. George Boeree of Pennsylvania in the 1960s and has a healthy existence online today.)
La Aventuroj de Alico en Mirlando
Alice in Esperanto translated by Donald Broadribb and edited by Patrick H. Wynne (Fifth Edition). (In Esperanto, “Who are you?” is said “Kiu vi estas?”)
Dee Erläwnisse von Alice em Wundalaund
Alice in Mennonite Low German translated by Jack Thiessen. (Mennonite Low German is spoken in Mennonite communities across North America and Latin America. There are well over 250,000 native speakers.)
L’s Aventuthes d’Alice en Êmèrvil’lie
Alice in Jèrriais translated by Geraint Jennings. (Jèrriais is spoken on the island of Jersey and is a descendant of the language of the Norsemen who conquered France in the 9th century.)
Alice’s Carrànts in Wunnerlan
Alice in Ulster Scots translated by Anne Morrison-Smyth. (The language that became Ulster Scots came to northern Ireland from Scotland in the early 17th century.)
All of the above are available for around $16 from Amazon.com. Bookstores can order copies at a discount from the Evertype.
The Lewis Carroll Society of North America’s fantastic Spring 2012 meeting yesterday in Cambridge, Mass., was followed today by a gathering to view the Lewis Carroll collection of former president Alan Tannenbaum and his wife Alison Tannenbaum, at their beautiful house in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Sandwiches were served, containing what I hope now was beef and turkey meats. In attendance were three of the four authors of this strange new sequel to The Hunting of the Snark, titled The Haunting of the Snarkasbord: Alison Tannenbaum, Charlie Lovett, and August A. Imholtz, Jr. Not physically present was illustrator Byron W. Sewell. It is published, of course, by Evertype’s Michael Everson, a man who would publish Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland translated into Dothraki (a fictional language created for HBO’s A Game of Thrones, based on the novels of George R. R. Martin) if he could. (Yes, that was an attempt to inspire aspiring Dothraki translators out there.) Everson writes:
Sometimes a publisher is given a gift for his unbirthday. Not long ago, four noted Carrollians came to me with a proposal for a dark, humorous parody of The Hunting of the Snark concerning what followed the Baker’s vanishing and the Crew’s continued hunt for a snark on Snark Island. How could one refuse?
Alison Tannenbaum wrote the poetry in Snarkasbord: A Crewsome Choice and also wrote notes on Byron W. Sewell’s illustrations for it. An introduction and Gardnerian-style notes have been written by August A. Imholtz, Jr in his inimitable style.
This edition marks the first public publication of the poems “The Booking”, “The Recrewting”, and “The Sailing”—the three “Missing Fits” composed by Charlie Lovett. These were originally written for a secret English Snarkian Society, and were mentioned by Selwyn Goodacre in his “The Listing of the Snark” in Martin Gardner’s final version of The Annotated Hunting of the Snark. Hitherto, they have only ever been seen by the members or guests of the Society.
In addition to his wonderful illustrations, Byron W. Sewell has contributed an original short story, “Forks and Soap”, which tells what happened to the Baker from the viewpoint of the Boojum. Like Lovett’s parodies, this short story has never before been seen by the public; it was issued in a very limited number to his Carrollian friends.
If you have been lucky enough to get hold of The Haunting of the Snarkasbord but have never read The Hunting of the Snark, please see here.
Tannenbaum is herself a notorious Cook (although she is known to use too much pepper) and she and Imholtz created the cookbook Alice Eats Wonderland published in 2009. Since the Snarkasbord poem seems to have a bit of Donner Party in it, let’s hope a sequel to Alice Eats Wonderland does not cater to the tastes of the Cannibal Club (with whom Lewis Carroll dined on 21 January 1868 and described in his diary as a “heinous society led by the reprobate [Sir Richard] Burton.” (Thank you, August, for the entertaining introduction.) The Haunting of the Snarkasbord sells for $15.95 at Evertype.
Since it has been translated into most human languages, I for one welcome new translations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for our new robot overlords. Here it is now in barcode, thanks to Books2Barcodes, created by WonderTonic.com.
“This is the full text of The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland converted into 2D barcodes. Use a mobile device with a barcode scanner to scan each code and read a section of the book.”
Evertype has announced the publication of a new edition of Selyf Roberts’ 1982 Welsh translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Anturiaethau Alys yng Ngwlad Hud is newly typeset and contains Tenniel’s illustrations. It is available from Amazon.com for $15.95.
“Y ffordd acw,” ebe’r Gath gan chwifio’i phawen dde, “mae ’na Hetiwr yn byw; a’r ffordd acw,” gan chwifio’r llall, “mae ’na Sgwarnog Fawrth yn byw. Ewch i ymweld â’r naill neu’r llall: mae’r ddau yn wallgof.”
“Ond does arna’ i ddim eisiau mynd i blith pobol wallgof,” ebe Alys.
“O, fedrwch chi ddim peidio,” meddai’r Gath, “rydyn ni i gyd yn wallgof yma. Rydw i’n wallgof. Rydych chi’n wallgof.”
Or, in other words….
“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
John Bull's Adventures in Fiscal Wonderland, a new edition from Evertype
Last month saw two new publications from Evertype, veritable fount of Alice parodies, translations, and rare reprints. (See the complete catalog here.)
John Bull’s Adventures in Fiscal Wonderland, by Charles Geake and Francis Carruthers Gould is a parody of late 19th century British economic politics, originally published in 1904. Publisher Michael Everson reassures readers that no specialist knowledge of either the Tariff Reform League or the Free Food League is required in order to enjoy John Bull’s adventures. (Amazon.com, $12.95)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a Manx translation by Brian Stowell
Contoyrtyssyn Ealish ayns Çheer ny Yindyssyn is the third edition of Brian Stowell’s Manx translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Amazon.com, $15.95). Manx, the language of the Isle of Man, is a close relation of Irish and Scottish Gaelic but with a very different orthography. Tragically, no native Manx speakers remain, but the language is the subject of dedicated revival efforts – to which this book will contribute, we hope.
Would-be travelers in a Manx Wonderland might like to practice the following phrases (extracted from Stowell’s translation):
Ta mish keoi – I’m mad
T’ou uss keoi – You’re mad
Ta shin ooilley keoi ayns shoh – We’re all mad here
Ta’n jees oc keoi – They’re both mad
In these circumstances, the book takes the well-deserved liberty of “localizing” a few of Tenniel’s illustrations: apparently the label on Alice’s bottle reads “IU MEE,” for example. But, inquiring minds want to know, does the Cheshire Cat have a tail? Has he been transformed into a Manx cat? Surely one of that curious tail-less breed, with back legs longer than his front legs and a wonderful associated terminology, would feel right at home in Wonderland? (Quiz: Is the cat below a “dimple rumpy, a “rumpy riser,” or a “stumpy”? Visit Our-Cats.com to find out.)
A Manx cat, naturally tail-free (Image from Our-Cats.com)
Translating a Japanese manga cartoon into English must be a trip down the rabbit hole itself. Thankfully, some unknown hero has taken the plunge and translations of all three volumes of Heart No Kuni No Alice or Alice in the Country of Hearts (by author Quinrose and artist Hoshino Soumei) are being published this spring. Volumes One and Two are available now and Volume Three will be released on June 1st.
Buy two and preorder one from the publisher Tokyopop, or from Amazon.
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are, I understand, to be published for the first time in German. When I first learned this important fact, it surprised me for a moment, for I had thought that both these classics had by this time passed into all civilized tongues; but after some little reflection, I soon realized that if they had been popular in Germany, we should have known about it. It is not difficult to imagine what will happen when the Alice books are well known there, for we know what happened to Shakespeare. A cloud of commentators with gather, and a thousand solemn Teutons will sit down to write huge volumes of comment and criticism; they will contrast and compare the characters (there will even be a short chapter on Bill the Lizard), and will offer numerous conflicting interpretations of the jokes. After that, Freud and Jung and their followers will inevitably arrive upon the scene, and they will give us appalling volumes on Sexualtheorie of Alice in Wonderland, on the Assoziationsfähigkeit und Assoziationsstudien of Jabberwocky, on the inner meaning of the conflict between Tweedledum and Tweedledee from the psychoanalytische und psychopathologische points of view.
-J.B. Priestley, “A Note on Humpty Dumpty”, 1921.
While Priestley was prophetically correct about the imminent psycho-analysis of Wonderland (and, obviously, not just by Germans), he was incorrect about that being the first German translation published in the 1920s. Antonie Zimmermann’s translation of Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland was published in 1869, the first ever translation of Alice into another language. Michael Everson is taking the considerable risk (according to Priestley) exposing the classic tale to Germans once again by re-publishing the original Zimmermann. (His wonderful Evertype publishing house released nine Carroll titles in 2009, and is so far sparing no moments this year with some new fascinating versions, parodies, and rare translations – - more at alice-in-wonderland-books.com.) Aus dem Klappentext:
Lewis Carroll ist ein Pseudonym. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson war der eigentliche Name des Autors; er war Dozent für Mathematik am Christ Church College in Oxford. Dodgson begann die Geschichte am 4. Juli 1862 bei einer Ruderpartie auf der Themse in Oxford, zusammen mit Pfarrer Robinson Duckworth, mit Alice Liddell (zehn Jahre) – der Tochter des Dekans der Christ Church –, und mit ihren beiden Schwestern Lorina (dreizehn Jahre) und Edith (acht Jahre). Wie man dem Gedicht am Anfang des Buches entnehmen kann, baten die drei Mädchen Dodgson um eine Geschichte und, zunächst widerwillig, begann er, ihnen die erste Version dieser Geschichte zu erzählen. Es gibt im Text des Buches, das schließlich im Jahre 1865 veröffentlicht wurde, viele versteckte Bezüge zu den fünf Personen.