Anya in Wonderland

Found on the Net, this is from the 1923 Russian-language edition of Alice in Wonderland–this version was translated by Vladimir Nabokov, who was paid about 5 dollars for his work.

(Leigh Kimmel has a lengthy essay about Nabokov’s translation here:
“Nabokov also sought to “translate” the situation of the novel into one familiar to the Russian child. Thus he renamed Alice “Anya”, which is a common Russian girl’s name, rather than simply transliterating it into the essentially foriegn Alisa. He also transformed other characters so that they would better fit into a Russian milleu. For instance, he made the French mouse, which in the English original had come to England with William the Conquorer, into a forgotten companion of Napoleon’s invasion force who had been left in Russia by mistake.”
)

Victor Sonkin has a marvellous piece in The Moscow Times about how Alice got to Russia:

“Alice” first came out in Russian nearly 130 years ago, but back then, it seemed the book would not fare well here. The anonymously translated version of 1879 was met with confusion and bewilderment. “Tiring, most boring, most confused sick delusions of a little girl”; “absurd dreams may be recounted in a family circle for fun, but they are not published, illustrated and presented to the general public”; “one can hardly imagine anything less sensible and more absurd than this fairy tale; all mothers are urged to disregard this worthless fantasy” — such was the critical consensus in Russia at the time.

It wasn’t till the 1960s that Alice really found its audience, he writes.

2 comments

  1. Alice was beautifully transcreated in Bengali by the noted writer critic of his times, Hemendra K. Roy as Ajob Deshe Amala. It is a wonderful book and thoroughly enjoyable.I believe some publisher from Indore has translated this version into Hindi but I do not know the title.

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