September 15-November 21, 2015. "Alice in a World of Wonderlands: The Translations of Lews Carroll's Masterpiece." Curated by Jon Lindseth and Alan Tannenbaum.
|Alice in a World of Wonderlands
THE TRANSLATIONS OF LEWIS CARROLL’S MASTERPIECE
A Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Publication of
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Grolier Club
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a world-wide phenomenon! Published in 1865, it is one of the most quoted works of fiction in the world, one of the most translated, and has never been out of print. The Grolier Club is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its publication with this groundbreaking exhibition Alice in a World of Wonderlands: The Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece devoted to the myriad translations of Alice. There are 7,609 editions (and counting) in 174 languages.
On view from September 16 to November 21, 2015, the exhibition represents the most extensive analysis ever done of one English-language novel rendered into so many languages. The presentation of 140 translations is based on a three- volume book of the same title and is drawn from the collection of Jon A. Lindseth, who is the exhibition curator, with loans from co-curator Alan Tannenbaum as well as the Fales Library at New York University, Princeton University Library, and The Morgan Library & Museum.
The book is famously difficult to translate because of its wordplay, nonsense, homophones, and cultural references. When Lewis Carroll was considering having Alice translated into French or German or both, he wrote on October 24, 1866 to his publisher, Macmillan, saying: “Friends here [in Oxford] seem to think that the book is untranslatable into either French or German: the puns and songs being the chief obstacle.”
This exhibition gives evidence that Carroll’s friends were wrong and to date there are 562 editions in German and 451 in French. On view are the seven languages translated during Lewis Carroll’s lifetime: from the first German and French editions in 1869, through Swedish in 1870, Italian in 1872, Danish and Dutch in 1875, Russian in 1879, to shorthand, published by Cambridge University Press in 1889.
The exhibition begins with background about the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodson, alias Lewis Carroll and his child muse Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, where Dodgson graduated and then stayed on to spend the rest of his life teaching. Lewis Carroll was a letter writer, photographer, mathematician, teacher, book collector, and of course, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. On view are selections from his life and works, his circles, the first use of the pseudonym Lewis Carroll in the magazine “The Train,” when he was 24 years old, through to his funeral keepsake and estate sale catalogue. Also on display are the first edition of Rhymes for the Nursery (1806), with “The Star,” a poem Carroll parodied, and translations of Carroll’s books from the collection of Alice Hargreaves, the real Alice. In addition, there are Carroll’s nonsense poem “The Hunting of the Snark” and Edward Lear’s copy of Alice, the two people being the greatest nonsense writers of the Victorian period.
This is followed by works that discuss the concepts and difficulties of translation including Vladimir Nabokov’s New Republic article of 1941, “The Sins of Translations.” The sins he cites are made by many translators of Alice. In his book Experiences in Translation, Umberto Eco writes: “Every sensible and rigorous theory of language shows that a perfect translation is an impossible dream.”
The other exhibition cases are devoted to translations in the languages and dialects of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific, Far East and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Brazil, as well as Esperanto, Braille and shorthand, Disney material, a Pop-up Book, and Comic Books. A world map shows the location of each spoken language into which Alice has been translated.
On October 7 and 8, 2015 a translation conference is scheduled. Speakers are from China, India, South Africa, Spain, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and Hawaii. The conference is open to the public but tickets are required.
The illustrated book Alice in a World of Wonderlands: The Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece, Jon A. Lindseth, General Editor and Alan Tannenbaum, Technical Editor, is in three volumes. Volume One includes the essays and appendices; Volume Two, the back-translations into English so that readers can see how all translators handled the same difficult portion of Chapter VII: A Mad Tea-Party; and Volume Three, the 174 checklists of editions, with more than 7,600 entries. The book is available from Oak Knoll Press, email address email@example.com.
More exhibition information can be found at AliceInAWorldOfWonderlands.com
VISITING THE GROLIER CLUB
47 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
GALLERY HOURS: Monday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm. The Club will be closed on Monday, October 12 for the Columbus Day holiday. The exhibition hall will be closed to the public for special events on Wednesday October 7-Thursday October 8, and Friday November 6-Saturday November 7.
Admission: Exhibitions are open to the public free of charge
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