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November 14: Astrid Lindgren’s 110th birthday!

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I heard a sad story related to the Russian translation of Karlsson-on-the-Roof.

The translator, Lilianna Lungina, was of Jewish decent. Antisemitism in the USSR of that age was not official, but ubiquitous. So no publishing house would hire her for “usual” translations from French or German — which she knew since childhood and taught. So she delved deeper in her knowledge of Scandinavian languages that she had acquired in the university and find the gem of Astrid Lindgren’s Karlsson-on-the-Roof.

Both Karlsson and the Little One became one of the most beloved heroes in the Soviet and later Russian children’s fiction. Lindgren got to know Lungina in person and admitted that nowhere in the world had her characters become as popular as in the USSR.

An illustrative story for us to never forget about the power of translation.


Lungina and Lindgren together, source: Wikipedia

And do you have any memories related to the books of the world’s 18th most translated author?

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