AK - Varia

Dictionnaire mondial de la BD [Worldwide Dictionary of Comics]. Patrick Gaumer. Paris: Larousse, 2010. 953, [96] p. ill. 27 cm. ISBN 9782035843319: EUR 45

An RREA Original Review by Sarah G. Wenzel (University of Chicago)

In this review, the term "comics" refers to sequential narratives composed of images and text, thus including comics, bandes dessinées [drawn strips], graphic novels, and similar formats.

Most reference books aiming to cover the world of comics tend to target a popular (if not children’s) audience and thus focus on the superheroes and horror comics that have been the staple of the US comic industry since the 1950s—the Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels edited by M. Keith Booker (Santa Barbara, 2010), for example. The Dictionnaire mondial de la BD is unique among print reference works because it covers comics in their great variety and touches on authors, artists, and characters from around the world. This 2010 edition has been significantly revised and expanded from the 1997 and 2001 publications (see RREA 6:165 and 7:142).

The copiously illustrated work consists of 2,200 entries, stretching from Rudolf Töppfer, often considered the father of comics, to Lewis Trondheim, whose medium is the cellphone. They are in alphabetical order in the original language of the title, character, etc., with center inserts printed in color covering geographic regions (Africa to Switzerland). An extensive index of authors, series, and periodicals concludes the volume. Each entry consists of a headword (if a person, giving pseudonyms when appropriate); the category of entry (artist, author, character, series, etc.); dates (of birth and death, when and where a character appeared, or the time period of publication); and responsibility (for characters or series). The unsigned entries range in length from a paragraph to two full pages. The essays covering geographic regions or countries discuss history, format, prominent authors, and significant characters.

Compared to the aforementioned Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, the articles in the Dictionnaire mondial de la BD are in a less conversational tone and use fewer adjectives. The Dictionnaire mondial also covers a much broader geographic scope; only three entries in the Encyclopedia address non-US topics (one of those being "European Comics"). That said, the Encyclopedia’s articles are signed, and many of them are longer essays. Although the Dictionnaire mondial does have an overwhelmingly European and North American focus, its strength remains scope, detailed entries, wide interests, and illustrations.

Other recent works with a more international bent include Carlos W. Albertoni’s Santas historietas: enciclopedia de los comics [Holy Cartoons!: Encyclopedia of Comics] (2d ed. Buenos Aires, 2006), which has articles of comparable length and a hispanophone focus—it uses headwords as they are seen in Spanish-language publications-but does not cover the breadth of the Dictionnaire mondial. Another is Das grosse Comic-Lexikon (see RREA 8:152), which includes entries—for example Scott Adams, Charles Addams, and Luis Bermejo Rolo—that seem obvious upon opening the volume but that are not found in the Dictionnaire mondial, the Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, or Santas historietas. Das grosse Comic-Lexikon also very usefully gathers bibliographic information about works published (in their German editions), films, creators’ Web sites, and even contact information for publishers and bookstores listed. However, it too contains significantly fewer entries than the Dictionnaire mondial and in addition assumes a German-reading audience, given that all of the headwords are in their German equivalent without cross-references. For example, one must know that “Tif et Tondu” is rendered in German as "Harry und Platte" in order to find the entry.

The Lambiek comiclopedia (http://www.lambiek.net/artists), a free online source, is similar in scope and coverage to the Dictionnaire mondial, as "an illustrated compendium of over 11,000 comic artists from around the world". It has the benefit of having color illustrations, but it is focused on the artists and thus is not as useful as the Dictionnaire mondial if one is interested in a character, a theme, or a geographic region other than the Netherlands. (Such topics can be searched for only inefficiently, within the entries for an artist, and the overall focus of the work is distinctly different). While some of the artist entries in the Dictionnaire mondial read as if they were translated from the Comiclopedia (or vice versa), in general the Dictionnaire mondial entries are far more detailed and contain cross-references, which, despite the seeming advantage of being online, the Comiclopedia does not contain.

Because of its strengths and current status as the single most comprehensive reference work for comics, the Dictionnaire mondial is highly recommended for collections with an interest in the genre.

Australian Literature in German Translation: A Catalogue of Titles, Translators, and Trends, 1789-2010. Russell West-Pavlov and Jens Elze-Volland. Berlin: R. West-Pavlov, 2010. xxi, 155 leaves, 30 cm. ISBN 978-3-00-030403-3: no price given (R. West-Pavlov, Freie Univ. Berlin, Inst. für Engl. Philologie, D-14195 Berlin)

Two researchers participating in a project on “Australian Literature in Translation—A Literary World-Systems Survey” at the Institute for English Philology of the Free University in Berlin have collected some of their results in this publication. It is also available online at http://www.geisteswissenschaften.fu-berlin.de/we06/forschung/ forschungsprojekte/2010-03-10_Translation_catalogue.pdf.

An introduction (which does not distinguish itself by particularly felicitous English) describes the project. Its goals are (1) “to map the current state of translation policy with regard to Australian literature in Europe;” (2) “to identify the main trends, themes, and patterns dominating the ongoing translation of Australian literature in Europe;” and (3) to “make available consultancy expertise to Australian authors seeking translators, publishers, on the basis of...knowledge of the market, or to European publishers and translators seeking contact with authors”. The third goal may not really be necessary, as the two authors were able to identify nearly 3,000 German translations, of which more than 1,000 appeared in the decade from 2000 to 2010 (from 1789, the year of the first translation, to 1899 there were six, from 1900-1949 there were 49, with a constant increase since then).

Using author names from the AustLit database of the University of Queensland, West- Pavlov and Elze-Volland searched German OPACs to produce their own database, from which they derived this assemblage of more than 2,800 translations that have appeared as monographs in about 3,000 editions. Basic bibliographic data for each translation include year of publication, title, author, German publishing company and place, translator, publication date of the original work, and its title. The body of the work presents the titles in four tables, sorted by year of translation, author, publisher, and translator. These tables are printed in such small type that a magnifying glass and ruler are needed in order to decipher the lines.

The results of this substantial effort are not especially surprising: “The vast majority of translations are of popular genres such as romance, fantasy, science-fiction novels, crime, thrillers and children’s literature” (p. xii). Leading authors by number of translations are Patricia Shaw, Colleen McCullough, Di Morissey, and Nevil Shute. Whether it is really worthwhile to expand the project to cover translations of Australian literature in other European countries can best be judged by the authors of this publication. [sh/nb]

Zwei Jahrzehnte ungarische Literatur in deutscher Übersetzung: 1988-2008; eine kommentierte Bibliografie [Two Decades of Hungarian Literature in German Translation: An Annotated Bibliography]. Comp. Christine Schlosser. Budapest: Magyar Könyv Alapítvány, 2008. 88 p. 24 cm.

Zwei Jahrzehnte ungarische Literatur in deutscher Übersetzung: 1988-2008; eine kommentierte Bibliografie [Two Decades of Hungarian Literature in German Translation: An Annotated Bibliography]. Comp. Christine Schlosser. Budapest: Magyar Könyv Alapítvány, 2009. 160 p. ill. 24 cm.

The two decades ending in 2008 were marked by a rapid rise of Hungarian literature to the world stage, which significantly increased both its international (especially German) readership and the demand for translated works. This achievement was highlighted by the selection of Hungary to be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1999 and the awarding of the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002 to Imre Kertész. The two above titles are partially overlapping bibliographies of Hungarian literature in German that appeared almost simultaneously under the aegis of the Hungarian Book Foundation (www.hungarianbookfoundation.hu).

The first bibliography endeavors to provide a comprehensive listing of German translations of Hungarian titles. It relies on the German National Bibliography, stock lists of German book vendors, and the Hungarian National Library’s catalog as sources of information. The first part of the work is dedicated to fiction. It has sections on individual Hungarian authors (this is by far the biggest one), anthologies, fairy tales, literary magazines, authors writing in other languages, German Hungarian writers, and children’s and young adult literature. Part two contains eight sections dedicated to various humanities disciplines.

The second bibliography, published six months later, is an enhancement of the fiction portion of the previous work. It provides brief biographical details and critical essays in the section on Hungarian authors as well as short annotations oin Anthologies, while the other sections are left unchanged. This volume also includes indexes of writers, translators, and publishers, which were absent from the earlier work. [sh/as]

Moderne japanische Literatur in deutscher Übersetzung: eine Bibliographie der Jahre 1868-2008 [Bibliography of Modern Japanese Literature in German Translation, 1868-2008]. Jürgen Stalph. München: Iudicium-Verlag, 2009. xxiii, 371 p. ill. 21 cm. (Iaponia insula, 20). ISBN 978-3-89129-829-9: EUR 38

This bibliography of modern Japanese literature in German translation expands upon earlier editions (see RREO 95-4-519) and extends its coverage until 2008. The number of German translations has grown impressively since the last version in 1995. The volume lists 1,800 translations of 1,553 works written by 412 Japanese authors, yet just 10 authors account for one-third of the listed works, showing a publishing emphasis on literary prize-winning authors. For example, the number of translations of works by the 1994 Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe (b. 1935) increased from 13 to 25 (putting him in 10th place), and the number-one translated author is Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927), with 109 translations (up from 55). The translations stem from single-author works of fiction, anthologies, and periodicals, and are numbered and annotated with information about the author, original title and publication date, and literary awards. In the future, one hopes that the bibliography will expand to include pre-1868 literature. [sh/ldb]

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