The age of innocence: translation, rewriting and the cosmopolitan experience in childhood

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Growing up in the Portugal of the 1950s on to the 1970s has meant to be raised on a diet of translations. Even though there was a considerable tradition of children’s literature in Portuguese – many major writers have at one time or another produced poems and/or narratives for the young –, certain genres were conspicuously absent. Adventure stories were virtually inexistent. Therefore, publishers relied heavily on translations of foreign works by authors such as Enid Blyton, Erich Kästner, Lieutenant X, Jules Verne and Emilio Salgari. My article will focus on the controversial British author. Blyton soon became a favourite, having her major series translated into Portuguese: the Secret Seven, the Famous Five, the Mystery series, as well as the boarding-school narratives, such as The Twins and The Mallory Tower books. Along with other collections – the Library for Girls and the Library for Boys amongst others –, these series have shaped the imagination of generations of children at a time when the world was still not global(ized) to the extent it is today. These books opened up a window to the world, acquainting children with different peoples, institutions, habits, gastronomy. By raising awareness to diverseness and fostering a taste for the foreign, this experience of a world not of ‘one’s own’ – English breakfasts and boarding schools figuring predominantly as adventures in themselves – produced a community around translation (Venuti, 2000), an almost cosmopolitan conviviality amongst young readers. The contribution will discuss the role these translations have played in the imagination of their readers, and how the translations have dealt with differentness at a time of uniformity in Portuguese culture. No matter how ‘askew’ and/or ‘familial’ the translations, these narratives have fostered a kind cosmopolitan imagination that may have impacted on the worldview of generations of young readers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslating for children beyond stereotypes = Traduire pour la jeunesse au-delà des stéréotypes
EditorsAdele D'Arcangelo, Chiara Elefante, Valeria Illuminati
Place of PublicationBologna
PublisherBononia University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9788869234132
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Publication series

NameStudi interdisciplinari su traduzione, lingue e culture


  • Children’s literature
  • Blyton
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Translation


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