Evertype re-publishes the first German translation, Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland

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.


Beautiful Carroll books online at rarebookroom.org

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass - 1900 - Carroll, Lewis (author); McManus, Blanche (illus.) - New York - The Burstein Collection

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass - 1900 - Carroll, Lewis (author); McManus, Blanche (illus.) - New York - The Burstein Collection

Twenty-seven beautifully rendered hi-resolution facsimiles of old Lewis Carroll books (and hundreds from other authors) can be read online at rarebookroom.org. From Mark Burstein’s collection, there are translations “in Dutch, Esperanto (ill: LeFanu), Farsi, French (Rackham, Tenniel), German (Birnbaum, Tenniel), Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swahili,” and English editions with illustrations by Maybank, McManus (pictured above), Pease, Pogany, Rackham, Charles Robinson, Rountree, and Winter.


Alice in Lojban, the Logical Language

The Rev. Charles L. Dodgson made important contributions to both Logic and Language. He died around a century before Lojban, a logical language, was developed–, so we’ll never know what he might have thought of (as the wikipedia defines it) “a constructed, syntactically unambiguous human language based on predicate logic.” Is language inherently logical, or can words mean what we choose them to mean? Does organic language have a sort of nonsense logic to it? How would Rev. Dodgson feel about a made-up language based on logic?

This website lojban.org describes its “effort to translate Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland into lojban” as “ongoing.” They’ve placed it in the public domain, and it is downloadable in a number of formats. We are told by Michael Everson of Evertype that it will be published in the near future. I would love to hear from one of the contributers how they approached the translation of the puns and wordplay.
It’s an elegant-looking language, if it does have that certain made-up look to it. Here’s the “Lobster Quadrille”:
e’o sutra doi cakcurnu i ko ti’a zgana ua pa
xajyfi’e noi jbitrixe gi’e me mi rebla stapa
i ui a’a ro le jukni e le respa ca se ganse
gi’e denpa mi le canre i pei do ba kansa dansu
i aipei naipei aipei naipei aipei do ba dansu
i aipei naipei aipei naipei naipei do ba dansu
i do ka’enai se xanri le nu pluka co mokau
ca le nu mi’o se renro fi le xamsi i’a au
i dardukse i dardukse sei cy spuda tolselmansa
doi merlanu ki’e ku’i i mi na ba kansa dansu
i ainai einai ainai einai ainai mi ba dansu
i ainai einai ainai einai einai mi ba dansu
i na selvai le ni darno sei le pendo ze’i frati
i iasai lo drata korbi ca’a drata mlana zvati
i le ni darno le glico cu ni jibni be la frans
i ko carna doi cakcurnu i ei do ba kansa dansu
i aipei naipei aipei naipei aipei do ba dansu
i aipei naipei aipei naipei naipei do ba dansu

UPDATE: I just discovered a recording of the Lobster Quadrille in Esperanto, for comparison:

Lewis Carroll – Esperanto – Lobster Quadrille .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine