The Most Translated Works of All Time

By Stacey
Aug 27, 2015 · 3 min

Some of the greatest novels of all time were originally penned in different languages, and have subsequently been translated so that others can enjoy these wonderful works.

The Most Translated Works of All Time | One Hour Translation

Some of the greatest novels of all time were originally penned in different languages, and have subsequently been translated so that others can enjoy these wonderful works. Stories with twisted, intriguing plots never fail to intrigue bookworms all over the world, regardless of their original language. We’ve now discovered that some of the most translated books were actually targeted to children. Let’s have a look at some of the more-famous translated works –

The Alchemist

This fabulous book about a young man’s journey to Egypt was originally written in Portuguese by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian-born author, and is one of the most recent best-selling books in history: it’s been translated into about 80 languages and been released into 170 countries – in fact, it set the Guinness World Record for the most translated book by a living author. Incidentally, the first edition of the Alchemist was a dismal failure, so-much-so that the publisher refused to reprint it. It was only in the 1900s after the French version topped the best-seller list in France that other publishers suddenly started to take notice.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

This hugely popular book has been translated from English into over a hundred languages. It was written in 1895, and later become a much-loved Disney movie. It was written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. One of the biggest challenges for translators was conveying Dodgson’s imaginative English into the target languages.

Harry Potter

These are some of the more-recent books to be translated - into around 73 different languages! They were originally written in English, and these books, which both adults and young people enjoy equally, have become the most popular books of all time. As at July 2013 these masterpieces have sold more than 450 million copies, making them some of the best-selling novels in history. Translators faced many challenges in translating the original meanings of some of the acronyms, the made-up magical words, jokes, cultural elements and riddles. Some of the translation strategies include replacing names with hidden means with other native words that mean the same thing; and copying names with hidden meanings without any explanation of their original symbolism.

The Adventures of Tintin

This book has been translated into about ninety-six languages! It was written in the 1920s in French, and this was one of the most popular comics to come out of Europe.

The Bible

This is the most translated, most read and most sold book of all time. There are several versions of the Bible, which is basically a collection of religious texts: some of these texts were written in Hebrew, some in Greek and others in Aramaic: all texts were written in ancient versions of these languages.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

Written by Jules Verne, this is a classic science-fiction novel: in 1953 it was adapted to film. Jules Verne is the third most-translated author of all time, behind Agatha Christie and Disney Productions.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Despite criticism over its controversial content and coarse language, this novel was written by Mark Twain, an American author, and is considered an American Literature classic: it’s been translated into over 60 languages. The book received mostly negative reviews when it was first published in 1885 in the Unites States, with critics accusing the author of depicting Huck Finn as racist; also commenting on the frequent use of racial slurs. Huckleberry Finn still continues to generate controversy and to this day is one of the most frequently taught books in the US.

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The translation industry is a relatively small one but it’s also a highly competitive one. Basically, do your research on a translation agency prior to making initial contact and it will certainly pay off; perhaps not immediately because there may not be any work available at the time, so just be patient. Your application must stand out above the rest, and by following these simple steps you should have no problem whatsoever in achieving your translation goals.