Translation Under State Control: Books for Young People in the German Democratic Republic, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Translation Under State Control

Books for Young People in the German Democratic Republic, 1st Edition

By Gaby Thomson-Wohlgemuth


260 pages | 25 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138828391
pub: 2014-11-10
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pub: 2009-06-11
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In this book, Gaby Thomson-Wohlgemuth explores the effects of ideology on the English-to-German translation of children’s literature under the socialist regime of the former German Democratic Republic. Giving prominence to extra-textual factors, the study undertakes a close investigation of the East German censorship machinery, showing that there was a close correlation between the socialist ideology propagated by the regime and the book selection process itself. Through an analysis of the contents of the print permit (censorship) files and the afterwords found in many books, Thomson-Wohlgemuth demonstrates that literature was re-written not only to placate the censor but also to directly guide the reader down the correct ideological path, both in the selection and interpretation of each translated text.

Thomson-Wohlgemuth begins this engaging study with a concise but thorough historical background of East German children's literature, setting the context for an examination of how the state and party operated to control the development of the genre. She highlights the fact that there was multi-level censorship at work, with the Unity Party propagating certain ideological literary policies, and the publishers self-censoring when selecting suitable texts for translation and publication. This book serves as an exemplary study of how publishers collaborated with the state in all Eastern European countries, and should be of interest to historians and children’s literature scholars alike.

Table of Contents

1. East Germany – History 1945-1989 2. GDR Developments in Adult and Children’s Literature 3. Publishers and the Lion’s Den 4. What the Files Say 5.Case Studies: Hugh Lofting, Doktor Dolittle und seine Tiere; J.R.R. Tolkien, Der kleine Hobbit; Roald Dahl, Hexen hexen; Crime and detective literature 6. If in Doubt, Spell It Out 7. Conclusion Appendix A: History of the publishers, Verlag Neues Leben and Kinderbuchverlag Appendix B: Official GDR Language Groupings Appendix C: Selection of Translated Crime and Detective Publications Appendix D: Corpus of Translated Children’s Literature (1961-1989)

About the Author

Dr. Gaby Thomson-Wohlgemuth is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Surrey, UK.

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founding Editor and Series Editor 1994-2011: Jack Zipes

Series Editor, 2011-2018: Philip Nel


Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / German
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature