Billy and Casp: Rediscovering forgotten translations in Polish-English cultural exchanges
In October 1939, shortly after the military aggression of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union against Poland, at the time of escalating war and chaos in this part of the European continent, a little-known fact occurred in the context of the cultural exchange between Poland and England. Janusz Korczak’s children’s novel Bankructwo małego Dżeka [Bankruptcy of little Jack], the story of a young boy running a school shop and struggling with various down-to-earth, financial decisions, was published in London by Minerva Publishing under the title Big Business Billy. A decade earlier, in 1928, in the more peaceful climate of the late twenties, another English translation of a Polish children’s book was published in London. This time it was a fairy tale entitled Kłopoty Kacperka góreckiego skrzata [The troubles of Casper, a mountain gnome] by the Polish writer Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, which came out in English under the title The Troubles of a Gnome. To date, these two English versions seem to have attracted very little or no attention among translation researchers. Unjustifiably so. It is therefore these two ‘forgotten’ translations of Polish children’s books that have become the focus of the present article.
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