Rosemary Sutcliff’s Dawn Wind was writer Annette Curtis Klause favourite plus insightful comments about German translation!

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illustration by Charles KeepingMy father took my sister and me to the library every Saturday. I could hardly wait to get home and start on the giant pile of books … Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels were among my favorites …  especially Dawn Wind. At the point where Dog dies, I would lock myself in the bathroom and cry my heart out under the mistaken assumption that no one would hear me, when actually my wails probably echoed through the entire house. “She’s reading that stupid book again,” I expect they said downstairs.
Source: Children’s Book Guild – Annette Curtis Klause.

And interesting extracts from a comment (full comment below), about translation into German:

I just reread Dawn Wind in an older German translation titled “Owins Weg in die Freiheit” (Owain’s way to freedom) and came upon some interesting issues. First the translator did a marvellous job, the story not only can be heard while reading but smelt and tasted. He makes me hear the waves crash on the ship-wreck Beornwulf comes home with, smells the burning barley breads and feel the mist creeping over the marshes. Second he doesn’t seem to know some facts about Britain. He constantly translates “corn” by the German “Mais”, whihc is, of course, the meaning the dictionary provides you with but I still believe Sutcliff may have used “corn” and just mean “Korn” (grain, wheat and rye and barley). This leads to the anachronistic scene of a 7th century british village situated behind a corn-field and the british warrior suggesting to draw “stalks of corn/maiz” for the feud between Vadir and Bryni. Also he translates Kyndylan the Fair as Kyndylan the Just, obviously taking the common meaning of “fair”, again provided by the dictionary, as just, reliable. Am I right in assuming that the title “fair” may mean that british leader’s colour of hair rather than his way of life, thus it should translate “Kyndylan der Helle (fair-haired)” or even “the blonde”?

5 comments

  1. When this particular translation was done there was no net to search :-). But, of course, it’s a well known fact that Maiz wasn’t cultivated in Britain in those days, that’s why I noted it in the first place. The publisher is rather well known and has published many of Sutciffs books and it is otherwise a marvellous translation. Must look for the original at amazon.de

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  2. To put a cherry on the top, Mais comes from America…and would reach England mostly after the landing of the Mayflower…

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  3. Yes, I think she most definitely meant to refer to the colour of Kyndylan the Fair’s hair.

    I think the translation about drawing stalks of corn is not right either: I have not been back to the book but I assume she will have written that the warrior suggested they “draw straws”: as a means of deciding something each candidate takes a piece of straw, one of which has been made shorter than all the others.

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  4. I just reread Dawn Wind in an older German translation titled “Owins Weg in die Freiheit” (Owain’s way to freedom) and came upon some interesting issues. First the translator did a marvellous job, the story not only can be heard while reading but smelt and tasted. He makes me hear the waves crash on the ship-wreck Beornwulf comes home with, smells the burning barley breads and feel the mist creeping over the marshes. Second he doesn’t seem to know some facts about Britain. He constantly translates “corn” by the German “Mais”, whihc is, of course, the meaning the dictionary provides you with but I still believe Sutcliff may have used “corn” and just mean “Korn” (grain, wheat and rye and barley). This leads to the anachronistic scene of a 7th century british village situated behind a corn-field and the british warrior suggesting to draw “stalks of corn/maiz” for the feud between Vadir and Bryni. Also he translates Kyndylan the Fair as Kyndylan the Just, obviously taking the common meaning of “fair”, again provided by the dictionary, as just, reliable. Am I right in assuming that the title “fair” may mean that british leader’s colour of hair rather than his way of life, thus it should translate “Kyndylan der Helle (fair-haired)” or even “the blonde”? Other than these the translation is intriguing and very well adapted to Sutcliff’s style. I must get the original asap :-)

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