Saturday, April 10, 2010


Browsing through Gutenberg's excellent site for free e-books I came across two versions of this childhood classic. One is the original I remember reading and another is a translation by a CHARLES WHARTON STORK who is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. There is a note at the beginning that says:

Since "Heidi" has been so often translated into English it may well be
asked why there is any need for a new version. The answer lies partly
in the conventional character of the previous translations. Now, if
there is any quality in "Heidi" that gives it a particular charm, that
quality is freshness, absolute spontaneity. To be sure, the story is
so attractive that it could never be wholly spoiled; but has not the
reader the right to enjoy it in English at least very nearly as much
as he could in German? The two languages are so different in nature
that anything like a literal rendering of one into the other is sure
to result in awkwardness and indirectness. Such a book must be not
translated, but re-lived and re-created.

Maybe so Professor but I didn't like your translation in the least bit - not that you haven't done a good job - but something was lacking. I think it's like being so comfortable with an old shoe that you don't want to even try break the new one in!

Also, I think when I first read this book I remember towards the end - either Heidi or Peter almost fall off the edge of a ravine and Clara is forced to walk and saves their lives. Now what I read is nothing that dramatic - Clara wants to see the flowers that Heidi so passionately talks about and this leads to Peter and Heidi helping her to that spot and Clara with Heidi's encouragement finds she can walk with their support. Does anyone remember this or have I mixed it up with something else?

I saw a movie version of Heidi - not the Shirley Temple one but another made in 2005 starring Max von Syndow as the Grandfather and Emma Bolger as Heidi. It was quite faithful to the story - but Heidi's longing for the mountains when she is at Frankfurt is hardly shown - in fact is seems that Heidi is quite content to be there. Also the ghost/sleepwalking episode was condensed to a disappointing scene. Sebastian (Del Synott)has done a marvelous job. Rottenmeir on the other hard was presented as a total caricature sometimes bordering on Cruella! Another thing totally out of sync was the Grandfather refusing to welcome Heidi when she returns and forcing her to sleep in the goat shed!

Hoping to see the 1993 version - its supposed to be the best.

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