Zohar Shavit,
Poetics of Children's Literature,
The University of Georgia Press,
Athens and London, 1986 ©

Chapter Five

of Children's Literature

This chapter covers certain behavior patterns of chil-
dren's literature. The discussion is based mainly on re-
search into translations of children's books into Hebrew,
though the described patterns of behavior are not nec-
essarily typical only to Hebrew children's literature, but seem to be
common to other national systems as well (mainly to dependent sys-
tems such as the Icelandic, the Arabic, the Swedish; see Klingberg,
Ørvig, and Stuart 1978 and Even-Zohar 1978a). The act of transla-
tion is understood here not in the traditional normative sense, but
rather as a semiotic concept. Thus, translation is understood as part
of a transfer mechanism -- that is, the process by which textual mod-
els of one system are transferred to another. In this process, certain
products are produced within the target system, which relate in vari-
ous and complex ways to products of the source system. Hence, the
final product of the act of translation is the result of the relationship
between a source system and a target system, a relationship that is
itself determined by a certain hierarchy of semiotic constraints (see
Jakobson 1959, Toury 1980a, Even-Zohar 1981). The texts that will
be analyzed here do not include only what has been traditionally
discussed as translated texts, but abridgments and adaptations as
well. The primary condition for their inclusion in this study is that
they claim some sort of relationship between themselves and the

In viewing translation as part of a transfer process, it must be
stressed that the subject at stake is not just translations of texts from
one language to another, but also the translations of texts from one
system to another -- for example, translations from the adult system


into the children's. Since the point of departure for this discussion is
the understanding of children's literature not as an assemblage of
elements existing in a vacuum but as an integral part of the literary
polysystem, the transfer from one system to another is even more
crucial for my discussion. Hence, I wish to examine the implications
of the systemic status of children's literature to substantiate the claim
that the behavior of translation of children's literature is largely de-
termined by the position of children's literature within the literary

Translated children's literature was chosen for discussion because
it is believed to be a convenient methodological tool for studying
norms of writing for children. In fact, the discussion of translated
texts is even more fruitful than that of original texts because transla-
tional norms expose more clearly the constraints imposed on a text
that enters the children's system. This is true because in transferring
the text from the source into the target system translators are forced
to take into account systemic constraints. I contend that this holds
especially true for texts transferred from adult to children's literature,
texts whose status in the literary polysystem has changed historically.
This group of texts (such as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels),
considered classics for children, will be analyzed as a sample for
discussion of two issues: the norms of translating children's books (as
opposed to those of adult literature) and the systemic constraints
determining those norms.

Norms of Translating Children's Books

Unlike contemporary translators of adult books, the translator of
children's literature can permit himself great liberties regarding the
text, as a result of the peripheral position of children's literature
within the literary polysystem.1 That is, the translator is permitted to
manipulate the text in various ways by changing, enlarging, or
abridging it or by deleting or adding to it. Nevertheless, all these

1 Those liberties were once the prevalent norm in translation of adult books. But
long after they had ceased to exist in adult literature, they were and still are acce
if not prevalent, in the children's system, not only because of its self-perpetuating
nature, but also because of its image in society.


translational procedures are permitted only if conditioned by the
translator's adherence to the following two principles on which trans-
lation for children is based: an adjustment of the text to make it
appropriate and useful to the child, in accordance with what society
regards (at a certain point in time) as educationally "good for the
child"; and an adjustment of plot, characterization, and language to
prevailing society's perceptions of the child's ability to read and

These two principles, rooted in the self-image of children's liter-
ature, have had different hierarchal relations in different periods.
Thus, for instance, as long as the concept of didactic children's liter-
ature prevailed, the first principle, based on the understanding of
children's literature as a tool for education, was dominant. Nowa-
days, the emphasis differs; although to a certain degree the first prin-
ciple still dictates the character of the translations, the second princi-
ple, that of adjusting the text to the child's level of comprehension, is
more dominant. Yet it is possible that the two principles might not
always be complementary: sometimes they might even contradict
each other. For example, it might be assumed that a child is able to
understand a text involved with death, and yet at the same time the
text may be regarded as harmful to his mental welfare. In such a
situation, the translated text might totally delete one aspect in favor
of another, or perhaps even include contradictory features, because
the translator hesitated between the two principles. In any case, these
usually complementary principles determine each stage of the trans-
lation process. They dictate decisions concerned with the textual se-
lection procedure (which texts will be chosen for translation), as well
as with permissible manipulation. They also serve as the basis for the
systemic affiliation of the text. But most important of all, in order to
be accepted as a translated text for children, to be affiliated with the
children's system, the final translated product must adhere to these
two principles, or at least not violate them.

The Systemic Affiliation

The systemic affiliation of a text entering the children's system is very
similar to that of a text entering another peripheral system -- the non-


canonized system for adults. As noted in my discussion of the self-
image of children's literature in chapter 2, historically both systems
use models prominent in the early stages of the canonized adult system.
I have also noted that the models of both are frequently secondary
models transformed from adult literature. For instance, in am-
bivalent texts the model of the fairy tale became acceptable in En-
glish children's literature only after the Romantic school had intro-
duced and developed imagination and rejected realism -- although
realism did continue to prevail in children's literature. Gradually
imagination became acceptable in children's literature (mainly
through translation of folktales and artistic fairies, such as An-
dersen's) until finally it became the prevailing norm.

Yet, it should be noted that in children's literature, the model
transferred from adult literature does not function as a secondary
model. Within the framework of children's literature, it functions
initially as a primary model. Later it might be transformed into the
non-canonized children's literature, usually in a simplified and re-
duced form. The detective story in children's literature might illus-
trate this point. The model was transferred to children's literature
only after it had been canonized by adult literature (mainly through
Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and Doyle's Sherlock Holmes). It
was first accepted by the canonized children's literature system
where it functioned as a primary model, different in character from
that of the adult model (see Erich Kästner's Emil und die Detektive
[1928] and R.J. McGregor's The Young Detectives [1934]). Only after
it had been accepted and legitimized by the canonized children's sys-
tem was the detective story transferred into non-canonized children's
literature, though in a reduced and simplified form. Here it served as
the basis for one of the most prominent models of children's liter-
ature over the last fifty years. Every Western children's literature has
its own popular detective series, whether it be the American Nancy
Drew and Hardy Boys or the English series of Enid Blyton.

However, despite the great similarity between non-canonized
adult literature and children's literature regarding their systemic af-
filiation, a big difference remains between them. As mentioned ear-
lier, the primary difference lies in the fact that the children's system
by itself is stratified into two main subsystems -- canonized and non-
canonized; an even more fundamental difference lies in the different


source of constraints imposed on the text as a result of its affiliation.
Though the constraints themselves may be similar (as in the case
with the nonacceptability of primary models), their motivation and
legitimation differ altogether. Whereas in the case of the non-
canonized adult system the main constraint is commercial, the source
of constraints in the canonized children's system is mainly educa-

These systemic constraints of the children's system are perhaps
best manifested in the following aspects: the affiliation of the text to
existing models; the integrality of the text's primary and secondary
models, the degree of complexity and sophistication of the text; the
adjustment of the text to ideological and didactic purposes; and the
style of the text.

Affiliation to Existing Models

Translation of children's literature tends to relate the text to existing
models in the target system. This phenomenon, known from general
translational procedures (see Even-Zohar 1975, 1978d, Toury 1977,
1980a, 1980b), is particularly prominent in the translation of chil-
dren's literature because of the system's tendency to accept only the
conventional and the well known. If the model of the original text
does not exist in the target system, the text is changed by deleting or
by adding such elements as will adjust it to the integrating model of
the target system. This phenomenon also existed in the past in vari-
ous adult literatures, although long after it ceased to be prevalent in
the adult canonized system, it still remained prominent in children's

Test Cases: Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe

The various adaptations and translations of Gulliver's Travels will
serve as a good example. The abridged version of Gulliver's Travels
was read by children in the form of a chapbook soon after it was
originally issued in 1726. As with another successful novel, Robinson
Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels
was quickly reissued in an unauthorized


abridged version (and as a chapbook) soon after publishers realized
its commercial potential. With Robinson Crusoe the first part was pub-
lished in April 1719, and already in August of that same year an
abridged and unauthorized version of the text was published, fol-
lowed by dozens of chapbook editions during the eighteenth cen-
tury.2 The same was true of Gulliver's Travels (1726), whose first
abridged and unauthorized versions were published by 1727 and
contained only "Lilliput" and "Brobdingnag." By the middle of the
eighteenth century, quite a few editions of Gulliver's Travels were
published in the form of chapbooks, containing only "Lilliput." Both
abridged versions of Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels continued
to appear even at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but by that
time they were issued for children and young people only (see Perrin

Originally, the lack of any other appealing reading material was the
main reason for Gulliver's Travels being adopted by the children's
system. Like all chapbooks, the book was enthusiastically read by
children, in the absence of other literature written specifically for
them (see chapter 6), and in such a way filled a gap that still existed in
the literary polysystem. Thus, the text was read by children even
before the children's system actually existed; since then, over the last
two centuries it has managed to occupy a prominent position in the
children's system.3 This is the case not only because it quickly be-
came a "classic" for children, but mainly because Gulliver's Travels
was continuously revised and adapted, in order to be affiliated with
the target system.

2 When model affiliation is dealt with historically, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is even
more interesting and complicated. Very briefly, this is the pattern: The original Rob
son Crusoe
served as a model for the Robinsonnades that became prominent in the
children's literature and were a reduced and simplified model of the original Robinso
. Translators who later adjusted Robinson Crusoe to children's literature coul
therefore ignore the original model and transformed the Robinsonnade, into a promi-
nent model of children's literature.

3 As the abridged text became a classic for children in the nineteenth century, it
simultaneously lost its position in the adult system. This does not mean that the tex
disappeared altogether from the adult system. On the contrary, the text acquired the
status of a "canon," as part of the literary heritage; that is, the text is read toda
adults on the basis of its historical value, while in children's literature it is sti
"living" text.


What were the implications of the process by which the text was
affiliated to the children's system? The first decision that translators
had to make concerned the very selection of the text. This decision
was in a way incidental because the text that already existed as a
chapbook became later on a chapbook for children. However, what
was common to the chapbooks and all other adaptations of Gulliver's
Travels was their inclusion of only the first two books. In spite of the
fact that Gulliver's Travels was frequently translated, not a single
translation for children has included all four books. Most translations
are of the first book only, and several others include the second book
as well. The selection of the first two books is primarily connected
with the decision to transfer the text from its original form as a satire
into a fantasy or adventure story.

At first the text was transferred either into the model of fantasy or
adventure just because they were such popular models in chapbooks.
Later on, the same decision was the result of two additional factors:
first, the overwhelming popularity of fantasy and adventure in chil-
dren's literature as well; and second, the lack of satire as a genre in
the target system (children's literature totally ignored the existence of
such a genre). This was probably due to the fact that children were
not supposed to be either acquainted with the subjects of the satire,
nor with its meaning. Translators who wished to transform the text
from a satire into either model (fantasy or adventure) of the target
system had to omit the last two books for two reasons. Satire is built
into Gulliver's Travels in sophisticated and complex ways, including
the inter-relations of the four books. In wishing to avoid the satire,
translators had no further interest in retaining that now functionless
relationship and could thus easily forego the other books entirely.
Next, translators found it much easier to adjust elements of the first
two books into models of the target system. For instance, the people
of Lilliput could much more easily be transformed into dwarfs of a
fantasy story than the people of the Country of Houyhnhnms, for
whom it was almost impossible to find an equivalent in the models
that already existed in the target system. Moreover, Gulliver's travels
in unknown countries, as well as his battles and wars, could easily
serve as the basis for an adventure story. However, when a translator
decides upon one of the models, usually in accordance with the pre-
sumed age of the reader -- fantasy for younger children, adventure


story for older -- the other model usually creeps into the text and thus
both models can be discerned almost in all translations.

Those two models, contradictory by nature (fantasy tending to
generalization, while the adventure story tends to concretization),
dictate the very selection of the text and its manipulation. The trans-
formation of the Lilliputian people into the dwarfs of the fantasy
story exemplifies the model's manipulation of the text. While the
original text emphasizes the similarity between the people of Lilliput
and the people of Gulliver's country (who differ mainly in size but
resemble each other in other respects -- which then becomes the
core of the satire), translators deliberately make every effort to blur
the similarity and create an opposition that does not exist in the origi-
nal, that is, an opposition between two worlds -- the world of Gulliver
and the fantasy world of the dwarfs. The fantasy world of the dwarfs
has all the typical attributes of the model of the fantasy, especially as
far as the fabula and characterization are concerned. Hence, in the
adaptation for children, the dwarfs are part of an enchanted and
strange world full of glory and magnificence. They are innocent little
creatures forced to protect themselves against a negative force that
has appeared in their world -- a typical fabula of fairy tales. In such a
way the Lilliputians are no more an object of criticism and satire but
an object of identification and pity.

The opposition between Gulliver's original world and that of the
Lilliputians is further revealed in adaptations for children by the de-
scription of both the emperor and his people in terms of the fantasy
model. Thus, the creatures of the original text become "strange crea-
tures" (p. 9), the inhabitants become "dwarfs inhabiting the country"
(p. 9), and "four of the inhabitants" become "four men of the native
dwarfs" (Jizreel edition, my italics).4

Moreover, unlike the original text, which uses several devices to
emphasize the difference in size in order to hint at potential re-
semblance in other respects, translations alway present the Lillipu-
tians not as miniature human beings but as dwarfs, as creatures dif-
from human beings. As a result, they emphasize their size by
adding diminutive epithets. In the original text the description of the
arrows compares the Lilliputians to needles: "I felt above a hundred

4 All English translations of the Hebrew Gulliver's Travels are mine.


arrows discharged on my left hand, which prickled me like so many
needles" (p. 18). The translations add to the description of the arrows
the diminutive epithet "tiny and minute" (Massada version). In the
same way translations add "tiny as a fly" to the food Gulliver eats
(Massada version), which is originally described as: "shoulders, legs
and loins shaped like those of mutton, and very well dressed, but
smaller than the wings of a lark" (19). Furthermore, devices that are
used by the original text to create the sense of the size of the Lillipu-
tian world, such as accurate and detailed numbers, situations which
create the sense of proportion (the children playing in his hair), are
totally omitted because their original function was to emphasize the
similarity between the two worlds, described originally as different
only in size.

The same phenomenon of adaptation of the original text into the
models of the target system can also be discerned in the characteriza-
tion of the Lilliputians. Thus, while the original text presents compli-
cated characterization of both Gulliver and the Lilliputians, trans-
lators tend to offer unequivocal presentations and hence to maintain
the typical opposition between "good" and "bad" of both the fantasy
and the adventure models. As a result, whereas in the original, the
"good" features of Lilliputians are only part of their characterization
and are accompanied by harsh criticism, translators tend to include
only the "good" features, thus changing the characterization al-
together. For instance, the criticism of the strange relations between
parents and children and the absurd manners of burial of the original
are totally omitted in translations, while good manners and high mo-
rality are indeed retained. An even more interesting example is the
device for the manipulation of the threatening or tension-producing
element, required for the model of the target system. Once a certain
character is chosen to represent this element, the translation will
ignore all other components, save the negative feature of the char-
acter, such as his mischievous use of power (see the description of
the Chief Admiral in the El Hamaayan edition, 41; or in the Jizreel
edition, 35).

This attempt to adjust the description of the Lilliputian world to
the model of fantasy can be observed in the description of the em-
peror as well. In the original, the emperor's description is detailed
and based on many aspects -- his height, color, voice, body, gestures:


"He is taller, by almost the breadth of my nail than any of his court,
which alone is enough to strike an awe into the beholders. His fea-
tures are strong and masculine, with an Austrian lip and arched nose,
his complexion olive, his countenance erect, his body and limbs well
proportioned, all his motions graceful, and his deportment majestic"
(24). Translators tend to subordinate this type of description to that
typical of the fantasy model -- to emphasize only his height and im-
pressive appearance as a metonym for his power, and omit all other
features. Hence the original description is translated into: "He was a
handsome little man much taller than the rest of his court" (Lady-
bird, 17) or "All his subjects dreaded his height" (Jizreel, 19). In such
a way translators changed the original description of the emperor,
which was based on popular travel books of the time, and transferred
them to the stereotyped presentation common to fairy tales, in which
descriptions of kings and rulers are aimed mainly at emphasizing the
element of power. I
The same phenomenon can be discerned in the description of the
emperor's dress and sword. In the original text the description of the
emperor's dress is as follows:
I have had him since many times in my hand, and therefore cannot be
deceived in the description. His dress was very plain and simple, and
the fashion of it between the Asiatic and the European; but he had on
his head a light helmet of gold, adorned with jewels, and a plume on the
crest. He held his sword drawn in his hand, to defend himself, if I
should happen to break loose; it was almost three inches long, the hilt
and scabbard were gold enriched with diamonds. (24)
Various translators have omitted most of this detailed description,
leaving only that which is typical of fairy-tale emperors -- glory and
wealth -- and frequently using the sword to symbolize the emperor's
power: "In his hand the King held his drawn sword whose handle
was decorated with sparkling diamonds" (El Hamaayan, 16); "He
held in his hand a sceptre bigger than a match. Its handle and edges
were decorated with jewels" (Massada, 26); and "In his hand the
Emperor held his drawn sword, a little shorter than a knitting needle.
Its golden handle and scabbard sparkled with diamonds" (Zelkowitz,
21). It should be noted, however, that the process of adjusting the


text to a certain model involves more than mere omissions of certain
elements. One of the most interesting manifestations of text adjust-
ment are those elements that translators find necessary to add to the
original. These added elements are the best indicators of the force of
constraints on the model, since adding new elements to an already
shortened text implies that the translator regards them as indispens-
able to the model. Additions are thus needed to reinforce the model,
and their inclusion reveals even more than deletions do which ele-
ments are considered obligatory for the target model. As an example
of such an addition, note that the "plain and simple" dress of the
original became in the translation "magnificent and very special"
(Sinai 23). Another example of added elements to the text is that in
which the original text describes the man who speaks with Gulliver as
"a person of quality." The translator made him a typical character of
the fantasy model, "a man wearing a long and expensive cloak and a
little boy holding it behind" (Sreberk).

In summary, the model's affiliation determined which texts would
be included or excluded, which elements would be added or omitted,
and which would remain, albeit with changed functions. In the trans-
lations for children, the satirical elements have either entirely van-
ished or remained minus their original function, usually acquiring a
new function and in this way contributing to the model of the target
system. In some cases they have even remained without any function
at all. Thus, by leaving out some elements and by changing the func-
tions of others, translators have managed to adjust the text to preva-
lent models of the target system.

The Text's Integrality

Today the norm of a complete, unabridged text is accepted in most
translations of the adult canonized system. Deletions, if at all, are
incidental. But in the nineteenth century and even at the beginning
of the twentieth, such a norm was not obligatory, and translators were
allowed to manipulate the integrality of the original text (see Toury
1977). In the adult system, this freedom to manipulate exists only in
the noncanonized system. Here translators are free to add or delete
in accordance with the demands of the target system, and more often


than not they do not preserve the completeness of the original text
(see, for instance, Hebrew translations of James Bond).

The same freedom of manipulation seems to exist in the children's
system (even within the body of canonized literature) particularly
when adult books are transferred into it. Within this body, the "rai-
son d'être" for all abridged texts for children is based on the supposi-
tion that children are incapable of reading lengthy texts. Neverthe-
less, the actual decision of what to omit is the result of the need to
revise the text in accordance with two main criteria, in addition to the
systemic affiliation: first, the norms of morality accepted and de-
manded by the children's system; second, the assumed level of the
child's comprehension. Hence a translator's decision to adjust the
text to children invariably means that he will have to shorten it and
make it less complicated at the same time. These two procedures
might, in reality, contradict one another because fewer elements are
required to carry more functions. As a result, translators must care-
fully manipulate the text in order to maintain a workable balance,
always keeping those two principles in focus.

The simplest manipulation of the text is done by deleting undesir-
able elements or whole paragraphs. However, this option is not al-
ways available to the translator. Sometimes the need to delete certain
scenes turns out to be very problematical for the translator, especially
when they are regarded as indispensable for the development of the
plot. Such scenes are often altered to become suitable when the
translator finds an acceptable formula or format for their inclusion.
As an example, note the scene of Gulliver saving the palace from the
fire by urinating on it. In the original text, the scene of extinguishing
the fire is used to advance the plot as well as to integrate satire into
the story. The Lilliputians reveal their ingratitude by not thanking
Gulliver for saving the palace. On the contrary, they blame him for
breaking the law of the kingdom and later use it as an excuse for
sending him away. The whole scene is clearly used in order to satirize
the arbitrariness of the laws and the ingratitude of the people. How-
ever, most translations could neither cope with Gulliver extinguish-
ing the fire by urinating on it (an unacceptable scenario in a chil-
dren's book) nor with the satire of the kingdom and its laws. On the
other hand, some translations, especially those built on the adventure
model, did not wish to leave out such a dramatic episode. In these


versions, Gulliver does extinguish the fire either by throwing water
on it (Mizrachi) or by blowing it out (Zelkovitz). As a result, this
episode is left in the text, even though it contradicts the entire char-
acterization of Lilliputians as good and grateful people. Here it may
be observed that in order to maintain the integrality of the plot, which
is clearly the most important aspect in the adventure model (see dis-
cussion further on), translators do not hesitate to contradict other
components of the text such as characterization. Other translators,
however, were happy to delete the entire scene, primarily because it
constitutes a violation of the taboo in children's literature on excre-
tions; moreover, it also violates the characterization of the dwarfs as
victims. Another reason for its deletion in some translations is that it
takes part in the buildup of the satire which translators so religiously
try to avoid. Hence, the deletion of this unnecessary scene can be
easily justified.

In fact, it can even be formulated as a rule that when it is possible
to delete undesirable scenes without damaging the basic plot or char-
acterizations, translators will not hesitate to do so. Hence all trans-
lators of Gulliver's Travels happily give up the scene where Gulliver is
suspected of having a love affair with the queen, for such a scene
violates the taboo on sexual activity in children's literature. In the
adult version, this scene plays an important role in the satire because
it appears logistically impossible for the suspected lovers to have an
affair due to their vastly different dimensions. Seen as satire, this
incident disappears altogether from translations for children; it is
unnecessary and thus can be easily omitted.

The other major criterion that guides translators is their sensitivity
to the level of reading comprehension of children. When a translator
assumes that a certain paragraph will not be understood by the child,
he will either make changes or deletions to adjust it to the "appropri-
ate" comprehenion level. This is why, translators of Robinson Crusoe
delete the opening dialogue between Robinson and his father, in
which the father presents the ethos of the bourgeoisie as opposed to
that of the lower and upper classes.

The same phenomenon is also apparent in most translations of
Tom Sawyer. In the original text, the familiar fence-whitewashing
scene has two parts. The first describes Tom's ingenious device for
making the children work for him and also pay for that pleasure. In


the second, Twain throws out several sarcastic remarks about the
"sacred" values of work and pleasure, aiming his irony not toward
Tom and his treasures, but rather toward adults, whose values the
text compares to those of the children. The result is a mocking and
condescending attitude vis-à-vis adults. Most translators delete this
part of the scene entirely, and thus the ironical level of the scene is
completely expunged (Twain 1911, 1940, 1960). There are quite a
few reasons for this deletion. First, this passage does not contribute
directly to the "plot" in its narrowest sense. Translators, in spite of
their endeavors to make longer texts shorter, are reluctant to omit a
paragraph that has a substantive part in the "plot." This is because
action and plot are considered the most important elements of chil-
dren's books or in Nina Bawden's words: "Writing for children is not
easier than writing for adults; it is different. The story-line, clearly,
has to be stronger.... The clue to what they really enjoy is what they
reread, what they go back to, and this is almost always a book with a
strong narrative line" (Bawden 1974, 6, my italics). However, in a
paragraph considered nonessential to the plot, translators will hap-
pily exclude it. In addition, many translators feel uneasy in presenting
ironical attitudes toward life and toward grown-ups that do not suit
the values a child should be acquiring through literature. They justify
their omission of irony by suggesting that such sophisticated at-
titudes, which demand a two-dimensional confrontation, cannot be
understood by the child. Hence, whenever it is possible, the level of
irony is totally excluded so as to make the text less complicated.

This tendency to avoid complex and/or unflattering characteriza-
tions of adults, and especially of parents, can be seen in other cases
as well. As Wunderlich and Morrissey argue in their analysis of
translations of Pinocchio, Geppetto's description is subject to the
same procedure:
Geppetto, the image of the parent, also undergoes change. The original
Geppetto is a truly human figure. He displays anger, rage and frustra-
tion.... The parent loves, but the parent also becomes angry and
punishing. Raising a child, Collodi shows, is no easy matter.

  Parents, however, are no longer punishing. They display only love,
warmth, support, and self-sacrifice towards the child. So, as with Pi-
nocchio, Geppetto is weakened through the thirties; his punishing vis-
age is eroded. (Wunderlich and Morrissey, 1982, 110)


The Level of Complexity of the Text

As stated earlier, the text's integrality is directly affected by the need
to shorten the text and the demand for a less complicated text. When
shortening a text, translators have to make sure that they also reduce
the proportions between elements and functions and make less ele-
ments carry even fewer functions. In contrast to adult canonized lit-
erature, in which the norm of complexity is the most prevalent today,
the norm of simple and simplified models is still prominent in most
children's literature (canonized and non-canonized), as is also the
case with the non-canonized adult system. This norm, rooted in the
self-image of children's literature, tends to determine not only the
thematics and characterization of the text, but also its options con-
cerning permissible structures.

When dealing with the question of complexity, the text of Alice in
Wonderland is
most interesting. In chapter 3, I asked how the text
came to be accepted by adults and discovered that it was the result of
the very characteristics later considered by adaptors and translators
as unsuitable for children. Here I approach the problem briefly from
the opposite direction -- that is, to show how the text became accept-
able for children, I ask which textual elements were changed in order
to make the text, in the translator's opinion, acceptable for children.
As a rule, all the elements that were considered too sophisticated
were either changed or deleted. Hence, translators systematically de-
leted all the satire and parody of the original text. The paragraphs
that contained those elements were not at all difficult to omit, be-
cause they did not contribute to the plot. Unlike them, the compli-
cated presentation of the world in the text posed a more serious
problem for the translators because they could not give it up alto-

In the original Alice in Wonderland, Carroll intentionally made it
impossible to determine whether things happen in a dream or in
reality. Such a complicated presentation was not acceptable to the
translators, who eventually solved the problem by motivating the
whole story as a dream. Therefore, the transfer into children's liter-
ature resulted in a simplified presentation that insisted on a clear
distinction between reality and fantasy. For instance, one adaptation
opens in the following way: "Once upon a time there was a little girl
called Alice, who had a very curious dream" (Modern Promotions, my


italics). Another adaptation ends in a phrase which leaves no doubt
that it was anything but a dream: " 'I am glad to be back where things
are really what they seem,' said Alice, as she woke up from her
strange Wonderful dream" (Disney). The procedure of transforma-
tion of a text into a less sophisticated one and its adjustment to a
simplified model is always achieved either by deletions or by chang-
ing the relation between elements and functions. However, it may
even happen that some elements will remain in the text, although
they lose their original function without acquiring a new one. This
occurs because the translator retains certain elements, assuming that
they contribute to some level when they actually do not. For example,
in the original Tom Sawer, the aunt is ironically described by the
funny way she uses her spectacles: "The old lady pulled her specta-
cles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them
up and looked out under them. She seldom or never looked through
them for so small a thing as a boy; they were her state pair, the pride
of her heart, and were built for 'style' not service -- she could have
seen through a piece of stove lids just as well" (Twain 1935, 287).
The comment explains ironically why the aunt puts her spectacles up
and down and does not look through them. In one of the translations
(Ben-Pinhas 1960), the translator made her lift her spectacles up and
down, but left out the writer's comment. The translator probably
thought the spectacles contributed to the plot (because of the "ac-
tion") and did not pay attention to their function in the characteriza-
tion of the old lady. Hence the spectacles in the translation remained

Ideological or Evaluative Adaptation

In earlier stages of adult literature, the concept of literature as a
didactic instrument for unequivocal values or for a certain ideology
was prominent. Long after it ceased to exist in adult literature, this
concept was still so powerful in children's literature that translators
were ready to completely change the source text in order to have the
revised version serve ideological purposes. A typical example for
such ideological revision is the translations of Robinson Crusoe. Per-
haps the most prominent of these was the translation into the Ger-


man by Joachim Campe (1746-1818) titled Robinson der Jüngere
(1779-80), which served as a catalyst for further translations:
Campe's adaptation was translated by himself into French and En-
glish (1781), although the most popular English translation was that
of Stockdale, published in 1782 in four volumes. The text was fur-
ther translated, and by 1800 translations also appeared in Dutch,
Italian, Danish, Croatian, Czech, and Latin. Moreover, the text was
translated into Hebrew no less than three times (1824, 1849, 1896?,
see chapter 7) and even into Yiddish (1784, 1840).

In such a way, Robinson Crusoe managed to be preserved in the
canonized children's literature for over a century, probably due to its
ideological adjustment. Furthermore, the text was followed by vari-
ous imitations that created one of the most prominent models in
children's literature, that of the Robinsonnade. Yet, it should be em-
phasized that although Campe's adaptation was the main reason for
Robinson Crusoe's becoming a classic for children, he practically made
it into a totally different text, from the ideological point of view, re-
taining only some of the original setting.

Campe's motivations for translating Robinson Crusoe were primarily
aimed at adapting it to Rousseau's pedagogical system, which served
as the pedagogical system of his school in Dessau. Campe decided to
translate Robinson Crusoe, because Rousseau himself suggested that it
be the only book given to a child due to its portrayal of the indi-
vidual's struggle with nature. When the book was examined with
Rousseau's views in mind, however, it became clear to Campe that it
demanded a thorough change -- Defoe's views on the bourgeois
ethos and colonialist values contradicted those of Rousseau. Thus, in
the original text, Robinson Crusoe arrives at the island with all the
symbols of Western culture (weapons, food, the Bible) and manages
to cultivate nature. In Campe's translation, however, he reaches the
island naked and possessionless (he even has to spark the fire by
rubbing stones). Robinson has to learn to live within nature without
building a quasi-European culture. Rather, he builds an anti-Euro-
pean culture and suggests it as an alternative to the European.

When Campe's adaptation was translated into Hebrew (on
Campe's status in Hebrew children's literature, see chapter 7), the
Hebrew translation needed further ideological revision in order to be
adapted to the prevailing Enlightenment views of the nineteenth cen-


tury. In one of the translations, that of Zamoshch, the translator tried
in a rathebräisheoxical manner to combine Campe's antirationalist
views with the views of the Jewish Enlightenment; the latter, in fact,
were similar to Defoe's ethos, the belief that a rationalist can over-
come nature and even cultivate it. The translator tried to stress not
only Rousseauian values, but also those of the Jewish Enlightenment
movement such as productivization. Thus, the children listening to
the story told by their father do not sit idle, but willingly busy them-
selves with some sort of work. In this example, it can be seen how a
text is selected for adaptation on the basis of ideology, yet still re-
quires ideological revision; paradoxically, the new version resulting
from this revision included elements of both Defoe and Campe.

The Stylistic Norms

Discussion in English of the stylistic norms governing translation of
children's books into Hebrew is impossible; thus only the guiding
principle will be presented here. The prominent stylistic norm in
translation into Hebrew of both adult and children's literature is the
preference for high literary style whenever possible. Despite the fact
that both systems share a common stylistic norm, however, its moti-
vation and legitimation is different in each system. While in adult
literature high style is connected with the idea of "literariness" per
se, in children's literature it is connected with a didactic concept and
the attempt to enrich the child's vocabulary. Again, as long as this
didactic concept of children's literature prevails, as long as it is as-
sumed that "books can and do influence outlook, belief and con-
duct," and that "for this reason, the writer for children will weigh his
words carefully" (Collinson 1973, 37-38), then children's literature
will not be able to liberate itself either from its diadactic aims or from
this specific norm of high style. Even if "literariness" disappears from
adult literature, it will still dominate children's literature, as long as it
is regarded as educationally "good" and until the didactic concept of
children's literature declines or at least loses its sway.

This phenomenon reflects the strong grip that systematic con-
straints hold on the children's system. These constraints govern not
only the selection of texts to be translated from the adult canonized


system, but the presentation, characterization, and model affiliation
as well.



Carroll, Lewis. [1865] 1968. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. New York:
____. [1890] 1966. The Nursery Alice. New York: Dover.
Defoe, Daniel. [1719] 1965. Robinson Crusoe. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Swift, Jonathan. [1726] 1960. Gulliver's Travels. Cambridge, Mass.:
Twain, Mark. [1876] 1935. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. New York: Garden


Lewis Carroll:
Carroll, Lewis. 1945. Alisa be'eretz ha-plaot. Translated by Avraham Aryeh
  Akavya. Tel Aviv: Sreberk.
____. 1973. Alisa be'eretz ha-plaot. Translated by Bela Bar'am. Tel Aviv:
Disney, Walt. 1976. Alisa be'eretz ha-plaot. Translated by Shulamit Lapid. Tel
  Aviv: Yavneh.
____. 1980. Alice in Wonderland. Racine, Wis.: Golden Press.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Abridged by A. K. Herring. New York:
  Modern Promotions.

Daniel Defoe:
Campe, Joachim. 1824: Robinson der Yingere: Eyn Lezebukh f r Kinder. Eine
  Hebreische ibertragen fon David Zamoshch. Breslau: Sulzbach.
Robinson Crusoe. 1936. Translated and abridged by Yehuda Grazovski. Tel
  Aviv: Massada.
Defoe, Daniel. 1964. Robinson Crusoe. Translated and abridged by Ben-
  Pinhas. Tel Aviv: Niv.

Jonathan Swift:
Swift, Jonathan. 1961. Mas'ei Gulliver. Translated and adapted by Yaacov
  Niv. Ramat Gan: Massada.


Gulliver be-artzot haplaot. 1976. Translated by Avraham Aryeh Akavya. Tel
  Aviv: Jizreel.
Gulliver be-eretz ha-anaqim. Tel Aviv: Zelkowitz.
Massa Lilliput. Translated by Pesah Ginzburg. Tel Aviv: Sreberk.
Gulliver's Travels. Loughborough: Ladybird.

Mark Twain:
Twain, Mark, 1911. Meoraot Tom. Translated by Israel Haim Tavyov. Odessa:
Twain, Mark. 1940. Tom Sawyer. Translated and abridged by Avraham Aryeh
  Akavya. Tel Aviv: Jizreel.
Twain, Mark. 1960. Meoraot Tom Sawyer. Translated and abridged by Ben-
  Pinhas. Tel Aviv: Yesod.



Wik portal where you can upload your ideas and interests and educational mind set for a free website account please apply here