Translators Lost in Translation


Once upon a time, folktales contained sex and violence. But as the stories were collected by cultural anthropologists, they were gradually stripped of this adult content in order to make them suitable for children. Moreover, these neutered children’s stories often make no mention of their translator, or even that they’ve been translated, writes M. Lynx Qualey:

I do understand the desire, even if misguided, to keep sex and violence away from children’s books. But my sons can handle knowing their Calvino was translated.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →