Thursday, November 6, 2008

Storm's Little Hobbin - he rubbed his eyes with the fur cuff of his sleeves in disbelief

I found a translation of Theodor Storm's Der kleine Häwelmann at the library. Not just any library - Bigshot Research Unversity Library. So it must be an important work, of interest to researchers:

Anthea Bell's name caught my attention. She's a big-deal translator - Freud, Stefan Zweig, Sebald's Austerlitz. This story probably took her about 20 minutes to translate, including a hot tea break. In terms of ordinary text, it might be two pages long.

Little Hobbin is a genuine bedtime story. The kid won't go to sleep; he just wants to ride around in his wheeled crib. I've forgotten how many children Storm had - seven, maybe? So it's easy enough to imagine the inspiration for this cautionary tale about the consequences of spending the night joy-riding. The story has its curious points, like the cat who wants to shine like the stars, or the trouble the moon has walking in the woods, on account of her horns.

The illustrations of Lisbeth Zwerger are very nice. I particularly like the sun, costumed as Goethe:

Think of how many books I could read if I read nothing but children's books. Like, 2,000 books a year or something.

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