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Translations and Adaptations of Literary Works for Children in Greece

(A Loose Translation of the Chapter of the same name in Kanatsouli, M.'s book, "Introduction to the Theory and Criticism of Children's Literature" (1997), pp. 129-132.)

The term translation is, so we think, understandable and does not require much explanation. It is defined as the exact rendition of a foreign author's work into another language, in this context being Greek.


The translation of literary works was done precociously in Greece.As early as pre-Revolutionary Greece, the German writer E. Kambe's "Young Robinson" was translated. This book, had, moreover, already been copied from Daniel Defoe's earlier and celebrated "Robinson Crusoe", which began a tradition of Crusoe tales. As mentioned, many novels with the same subject and theme were published in many European countries and regional "Robinson Crusoes" were created in accordance with local traditions, i.e. a "Greek Robinson" (Έλλην Ρομβινσών) appeared in Greece.

Especially in pre-Revolutionary Greece, translations were extremely popular because there was no substantial literature for children, and consequently translations aided in filling in literary gaps. Yet another literary work which became famous and its author loved was one by the Frenchman (Τυχαι του Τηλέμαχου υιού του Οδυσσέως).

There are various points of interest in the works translated at the end of the 18th Century and the beginnings of the 19th:

a) Mainly novels, encyclopaedias and works of a didactic character were translated;
b) Most of these were works of French and German authors, which shows the orientation of those who were involved with literature for children in Greece at the time;
c) The translators were Greeks of the diaspora who were interested in the education of Greek children.
d) The main centers for the publication of children's books were found in important international Greek communities, i.e. the Greek community in Venice, Italy.

By and large, the dominance of the European book in Greece, during the period beginning around the 1800's and ending just before the beginning of the 19th Century, is undeniable. In a total of 900 published children's books, 510 titles belonged to foreign authors. Of course, most of them do not comprise of unadulterated translations, but rather include "recreated interventions" by the translators, thus, the foreign texts have been rendered into the Greek language in such a way, that they cannot but be considered as "Greek".

In the final three decades of the 19th Century, children's literature Hellenized itself, and there was a swing of interest towards "pure Greek" books. The translations of the last few years take care in faithfully rendering the original texts, without having the translator intrude and intervene in the text, so that every national children's literature may become an international acquirement.

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