On the occasion of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which begins on October 20, the online language learning platform Preply has published an internet search with the most translated books worldwide. The list is headed by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “Le Petit Prince”. The German version “The Little Prince” is one of the 382 languages into which the story has been translated.
France is followed by Italy with the classic children’s book “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi, which has been translated into more than 300 languages. This is followed by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” – again originally written for children – with around 175 translations. Unlike in Denmark, where Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales lead the hit list, the stories of the Brothers Grimm are not number one in Germany. With over 49 languages, Patrick Süskind’s “Perfume – The Story of a Murderer” is the most translated German book, with 20 million copies sold worldwide. There are different ways of counting. If you include children’s books, “Am I Small?” by Philipp Winterberg translates to approx 200 languages and dialects, putting it at the top.
Many of the leading translations have also made it to the cinema and television. Perfume was brought to the big screen in 2006 by Tom Tykwer, starring Ben Whishaw in the lead role of special killer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. The Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk has published 60 foreign language editions.
Among the few authors to make the list are Astrid Lindgren of Sweden with her Pippi Longstocking, which has been translated into more than 70 languages, alongside the Dutch Diary of Anne Frank and Johanna Spyri’s “Heidi” from Switzerland – the alpine romance was broadcast in over 50 languages. From the USA, “The Way to Happiness” by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard made it into the ranking with 122 translations. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is available in 49 languages. On the other hand, there are works that do not come from Europe and rather from western regions. This is where the balance of power in the world becomes apparent. Plants from Africa, for example, have a hard time.