Grimm translations : refiguring German fairy tales through English translation (1823-2012)

Schroeder, C. D. C. (2018) Grimm translations : refiguring German fairy tales through English translation (1823-2012). (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis examines the cultural and individual impact in the English language translations of Grimms’ Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM) published from 1823 until 2012. It argues that translations reflect the cultural priorities of the translators and the society for which they were written. This hypothesis is tested by analysing eight translations: Edgar Taylor (1823/ 1839), Anonymous (1853), Margaret Hunt (1884), Wanda Gág (1936), Ralph Manheim (1977), Maria Tatar (2004) and Philip Pullman (2012). Each of these translators has added a distinct dimension to our understanding of the tales. After establishing the theoretical background of the thesis, the Grimms’ editorial changes in the seven editions of the KHM will be analysed through detailed examination of three tales, which will operate as case studies. Each subsequent chapter deals with a specific English edition and also analyses three tales from it. In each case the analysis is preceded by a comparison of a short excerpt of text taken from both the German source and the English translation. The final chapter takes four elements of the tale ‘Der Froschkönig’ [the Frog King] and examines them in light of the eight previously discussed editions. This thesis emphasises the complexity of translating; a process in which multiple factors influence and shape the translator’s choices, including the translator’s motivations, background and cultural context. It concludes that translations are shaped by the translators’ cultural background and their target audience, therefore each new translation of the KHM furthers our own understanding of the source text and its culture as well as our own. Thus, to widen our perception of the tales they have to be refigured for a new generation.

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