Browsing Vol. 6: Adaption av flickskap : Normbekräftande och normbrytande i flickböcker översatta från engelska till svenska och finska 1945–1965 by Title

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  • Leden, Laura (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This interdisciplinary thesis is the first more comprehensive study of girls’ book translations in Sweden and Finland. The study examines adaptation of the image of girlhood in girls’ books translated from English to Swedish and Finnish between 1945–1965. Girls’ literature and girls’ books are children’s literary genres about girlhood, about girls’ lives and what it means to be a girl in a certain historical context. Girlhood is depicted in relation to norms for how girls are expected to behave, which means that the girl protagonists often both confirm norms by adapting to the expectations of society and rebelliously challenge these norms. Translations of girls’ books are influenced by norms of girlhood, narrative norms, and translations norms. These result in adaptation, a translations practice where translations are adapted to the norms of the target context (the target culture and the publisher) and to the target audience, in this case young girls. The frame of reference is the polysystem theory, according to which all genres and literary works belong to the literary polysystem, a network of partly overlapping systems in which tensions arise between the center with higher prestige and the periphery with lower prestige. The objective of this study has been to analyze how the peripheral position of girls’ literature within the general literary polysystem and the internal relations between the center (Bildungsromane with higher status) and the periphery (series books with lower status) within the girls’ literary polysystem influences the amount and type of adaptation in girls’ books. The ways in which this peripheral position impacts the image of girlhood in the books is also examined. A further aim has been to analyze whether the Finnish girls’ book system has been influenced by the Swedish system due to Finland’s peripheral position in the Nordic translation system. The qualitative material consists of three Bildungsromane by L. M. Montgomery, Jean Webster, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and three series books by Helen D. Boylston, Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym), and Helen Wells, as well as their Swedish and Finnish translations. These books represent the series that, according to my initial quantitative survey, were the most prominent among the girls’ books published in both Swedish and Finnish in 1945–1965 (52 books). To contextualize the material, a paratextual analysis of publisher correspondence and the covers and cover texts of the translations has been conducted. The analysis shows that the Nordic countries were a uniform system with Sweden and Norway at its center, as books and series came to Finland via these countries, and Swedish and Norwegian translations were used as source texts for three of the Finnish translations in my study. This interdisciplinary study has three methodological starting points for the analysis of the effects of adaptation on the image of girlhood. The primary descriptive translation studies method consists of a comparative and categorizing adaptation analysis, my linguistic method involves an analysis of semantic-pragmatic features and pragmatic language functions, and my literature studies method is a narrative analysis of character indictors in relation to gender stereotype schemata for masculine and feminine narration, which represent norm-confirming and norm-breaking narration. The results demonstrate that both target-oriented abridged translations and source-oriented faithful translations appear in both the Bildungsromane and series book material. Thus, the amount of adaptation does not correlate with the polysystemic position of the translation. This indicates that the polysystem hypothesis that translations with a peripheral status are likely to be target-oriented is not supported within the girls’ book genre. Instead, adaptation occurs according to commercial, didactic, and pedagogical norms regardless of the polysytemic position. In the adapted translations, the image of girlhood is influenced by downplaying of character traits associated with norm-breaking girlhood, and by an increase of plot-oriented narration, which is the norm within children’s literature.