Sunday, December 2, 2012

10 Most Translated Literary Works Aside from the Bible and the Qu’ran

Books are great to have around. They keep us company. They take us to places. They make us have a clear understanding of things, concepts, ideas and beliefs. They could even make our fantasies come alive, and join us on some adventurous journeys.

Books are written in a language that may be different from ours. The good thing is that most popular books are translated into other languages, to increase their readership and make more readers appreciate them across continents. Aside from the Bible, with 475 translations for the whole Bible and 112 translations for the Qu’ran, the most translated literary works are the well-known classics, old and new.


This well-loved children’s classic about a wooden puppet that dreamed of being a boy had been translated into 260 languages from its original Italian text. It was written by Carlo Collodi and first published in 1883.

Pilgrim’s Progress

This classic, written in English by Paul Bunyan was first published in 1678. It had been translated into 200 languages. It has never been out of print and is regarded as one of the most outstanding works in English literature dealing with a religious subject.

The Little Prince

This admirable Little Prince has circled the globe many times over. From the original French version, it has been translated into 180 languages.

Andersen’s Fairy Tales

From 1835 to 1852, the collection of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales have been published. From its original Danish text, these children’s books are now available in 153 languages.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

The 1870 science fiction with Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus was authored by Jules Verne. From French, it has been translated into 147 languages.

The Adventures of Asterix

The story may be about the adventures of the Gauls but this French comic books made fans around the world appreciate them more with its 112-language choices.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Falling into a rabbit hole into a fantasy world - a formula for this classic to be enjoyed by children and adults. It was penned by Lewis Carroll in 1865 in English. Available in 97 languages, it’s a great book that defies logic and a example of a genre of literary nonsense. 

The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin was originally published in French. It was written by Hergé and the comic book series is about the adventures of young Belgian reporter Tintin and his faithful sidekick, Snowy, a fox terrier. As it takes Tintin to different parts of the world, it is but fitting for it to be available in 96 languages other than French

The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho wrote this book in Portuguese and had it published in 1988. Now translated into 71 languages as of 2011, the story tells of the tale of Santiago, a young shepherd from Andalusia who made a journey to Egypt to find a treasure, after he had recurring dreams about it.

Harry Potter

One of the world’s bestsellers in recent history, this book about magic, mystery, fantasy and coming of age is already available in 67 languages. The Harry Potter series, first published in 1997, made the 7-book series and British author J.K. Rowling immensely popular.

Sherlock Holmes

“Elementary, my dear Watson” is the most famous line in the Sherlock Holmes detective series, penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and first published in 1887. It was originally written and English. Now it has 60 translations. 

Several books did not make it in this list, simply because there are too many of them than this space would allow. Your favorite book might not be in this one and if you are reading it in your own language, then that’s a good thing.

by: Bernadine B. Racoma
Editor, Day Translations, Inc.
“The most accurate translations on the planet!”

Photo Credits:
- Pinocchio
- Pilgrim's Progress
- The Little Prince
- Thumbelina
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
- The Adventures of Asterix
- The Adventures of Tintin
- The Alchemist
- Harry Potter
- Sherlock Holmes


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John Geary said...

Two things:
1. Sherlock Holmes never says “Elementary, my dear Watson” in any of the stories written by Doyle – that came as a result of the Basil Rathbone movies. Anyone who is any kind of fan of the Sherlock Holmes canonical stories knows this.
2. You state that Paul Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress;” it says right on the cover of the photo included in this article that it was John Bunyan. Paul Bunyan was a fictional character. Don’t you proof your work? I can understand how you can make a slip up like that, but two errors like these two in the same blog post? That pattern really hurts a writer’s credibility

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