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Babysitting the Reader

Translating English Narrative Fiction for Girls into Dutch (1946-1995)


Mieke K.T. Desmet

This comparative study looks at the way English books for girls are imported and translated into Dutch and Flemish culture. Fiction for girls has existed in Flanders and the Netherlands for more than one hundred years and started with the translation of Little Women into Dutch in 1876. Original fiction for girls in Dutch has developed especially in the Netherlands. Translations from English, German and French played an important role in developing the genre over time and Flanders plays an important role in bringing translations of narrative fiction for girls on the Dutch-Flemish market. Translations take many forms and the way a narrative is translated can vary a lot. It is often assumed that only the best of other cultures is translated, but that is not really the case. A large proportion of the translations analyzed in this study are popular fiction series which were heavily adapted and changed in the translation process. The same is true of classic girls’ texts, such as Little Women, which are often unrecognizable in translation. However, not all translations take that many liberties with the original and many award-winning books are translated in a faithful way.
Contents: Translation of Narrative Fiction for Girls – Source Text/Target Text Comparison – Translation Related to Status of Texts – Little Women – Popular, Classic, and Award-winning Texts.