On Twitter this morning, one of my favorite authors wrote:
Monday: Done USA rewrite of Dragonslayer-1, finishing DS-2 for the UK in November
Which got me thinking...how often are "foreign" books rewritten for American audiences? I'm not talking about translation, which in itself involves a certain about of rewriting so that the meaning and spirit of the words come across rather than the exact translation which, depending on the language, can be very broken.
My concern is with books originally written in English. I don't know if the rewrites for the author above were just to fix errors in the UK version or to clarify issues. BUT if it was to simply Americanize the book so it's easier for us to absorb, I don't agree with that. Even something simple, like changing the first Harry Potter book from The Philosopher's Stone to the The Sorcerer's Stone bothered me. Why was there a need to change it? So it was easier for the kids to immediately understand?
We Americans are very isolated in our culture. Yes, we travel across the US, but there is so much more to the world than the good ol' US of A. Traveling overseas is very expensive though, at least for me it is. It isn't something we can do casually or often. It requires planning and saving.
Some of the best ways to be exposed to different cultures is through literature, and most easily through popular books, books which are set in foreign places written by foreign authors Let us learn about your society and traditions and customs. We're resourceful enough to figure out what we don't understand (hello wikipedia). Don't Americanize books for our consumption. Don't protect us from the world. Help us experience it and broaden our horizons.