This week (21-27 September) is Banned Books Week.
It’s a chance – particularly in the States – to celebrate the freedom to read.
What gets banned isn’t always what you expect, and it’s very contextual. In this regard, the Finnish Library Channel’s calendar of banned books is so good, it’s worth another look.
Particularly as it leads to some surprising discoveries about the translation of some well-loved classics on Finland’s western and eastern borders (the videos linked below are in Finnish and Swedish with English subtitles).
On the Western Front: Did you know that the French translation of the Swedish Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking left out four chapters in which she was seen as too defiant towards adults? What is more, her horse was changed into a pony, as no French child who had lived through the war would believe that Pippi could lift a horse.
And on the Eastern Front: The Belgian cartoonist Hergé self-censored his own Tintin in the Land of the Soviets because he didn’t think it was good enough. In Finland, the story was seen as so negative about the USSR that it could only be published in 1986, when glasnost was truly under way.
This is definitely the week to start reading a banned book, whether in the original in translation, but it looks like you probably already have. Especially if you’ve ever read a Bible verse: but that’s another story…