: Mariya Manzhos
: Kyiv Post,

How childrens heroes started speaking Ukrainian

Many childrens book heroes, just like Hollywood actors, enjoy international fame. Karlsson, Harry Potter and the Little Prince are perhaps the most famous of all on the imaginary walk of fame.

But none of their adventures could have been enjoyed in Ukrainian without the talents of their translators. Several unseen magicians were able to balance the difficult task of converting the words into a new language while preserving the intangible style and meaning of the original tales.

For the first time I read the The Little Prince as a nine-year-old,
I was struck by the naivete of the story; it seemed abstruse and I dismissed it,
says Leonid Kononovych.


Adventures of the French-speaking diminutive Little Prince navigating through galaxies appeared in Ukrainian thanks to Leonid Kononovych, 53, another Ukrainian translator. His translation is the only one on the Ukrainian market.

Enamoured with French existentialist literature, he used to write philosophical prose and detective novels in the 1980s and translated literary giants Camus and Sartres, not taking much interest in childrens books. Kononovych read Antoine Saint-Exuperys Little Prince as a child, but didnt expect to come back to it in his profession.

For the first time I read the The Little Prince as a nine-year-old, I was struck by the naiveteof the story; it seemed abstruse and I dismissed it. In several decades, when I reread it for translation, I saw this book anew as a profound parable, shares Kononovych.

For example, the exchange between the Little Prince and the Rose is symbolic of the relationship between a man and a woman, explains the translator.

In 2005 Ukrainian publisher Calvaria managed to acquire the desirable rights for Saint-Exuperys The Little Prince due to their close relationship with Gallimard, the French owner of the books rights.

Without delay, Kononovych was offered to translate the eminent tale of the Prince.

This ostensible childrens book appeared in Ukrainian with copies of Saint-Exuperys own illustrations in 2005, even though illegally illustrated copies percolated the market in the 1990s.

Kononovych admits that the most challenging phrase to adapt in Ukrainian was one of books key ideas Fennec Foxs explanation of friendship as creer des liens or to create bonds. The most fitting adaptation to me seemed to be instill amicability. The translator believes that the "Little Prince" is for adults and continues be a source of discovery.

Oct. 25, 2011

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