Harry Potter was introduced to the unsuspecting public in 1997, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rawling, and the Spanish translation was published a year latter. I have both editions: the pages of my Scholastic trade paperback are already turning yellow while the Spanish language hardbound by Emcé Editores is in perfect condition. By now, the year 2010, Harry would have completed his graduate studies; perhaps he became a London financier and helped shape the stock market crash—who knows.
I like reading the Spanish translations of Harry even though the early translations read like Google Translation produced them. Look at this translation of the first sentence of Volume I:
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
El señor y la señora Dursley, que vivían en el número cuatro de Privet Drive, estaban orgullosos de decir que eran perfectamente normales, afortunadamente.
The somewhat ungrammatical phrase “thank you very much” tacked on the end of the line seemed to throw the translator (and Google too, by the way). The phrase being idiomatic English for something like “and they thanked God for that.” I would like to see something like:
Los Dursley, del número cuatro de Privet Drive, estaban orgullosos de decir que eran perfectamente normales, dieron gracias por ello.
But, Harry is a juvenile fantasy/adventure series so the story is what is important and the translation does not hold back the story. So Harry in Spanish is great; I loved the reading.
My copy of Volume I is loaded with the scribbled marginal notes written as I pondered the mysteries of Spanish for the first time. I persevered in learning Spanish and went on to read the Spanish editions of Harry as soon as they hit the local bookstore’s shelves.
Emcé published volumes 1-3, and then a new publisher, Salamandra, took over. They continued printing the high quality, and inexpensive, hardback editions, but the publishers kept changing translators volume by volume. Each change of translator led to slight changes in the style—unfortunate, since Rawlings herself seems to hold her style quite constant during the whole series.
My reading of Harry in Spanish stopped abruptly when the final volume came out. Instead, I bought the Scholastic hardbound Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as soon as it appeared in our local Borders Books. I couldn’t wait a year for the Spanish translation because I was afraid that the ending would be all over the press.
I read Volume 7 over a single weekend avoiding the newspapers, the WWW and TV. What a marathon of reading for me who is a slow reader. It was worth it; I thought then and still think that Harry is a giant sized achievement for the author.
The Spanish translations will go back onto my library shelves alongside the English language Volume 7, but the two yellowing trade paperbacks of Volume 1 and 2 can now be recycled. I’m also cleaning out a Spanish translation of Volume 5, because it is falling apart: the volume is too thick for the paperback binding (Harry and the Order of the Phoenix is almost as long as the final volume!)
The deaccession count: Posts 8, Books 18.