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The Wild Rumpus: Colbert interviews Sendak (and translation notes)

January 26, 2012

If you missed the two-part interview of Maurice Sendak by Stephen Colbert on his Colbert Report, then you can view it below.  Sendak, of course, has written Where the Wild Things Are, which has the distinction of 3rd place in the top 5 books of all time that have inspired tattoo art.  The first interview, I should warn you, gets into interpretations of “the wild rumpus” in the book.  Furthermore, the interview subtitle and subject “tags” noted at colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report should serve as an additional viewer advisory.  The subtitle begins “Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak contemplates the complexity of children and the simplicity of ….”  Some of the subject tags are as follows (but I’m omitting the most offensive ones that refer to race and sex classes and to body parts): “Maurice Sendak, appearances, on location, books, literary references, kids, Newt Gingrich, Vin Diesel, money, business, celebrities, fans, dreams, murder, pregnancy, censorship, movies.” The second interview is subtitled, “Maurice Sendak considers the state of children’s literature and gets ….” with some of these tags (but again I’m censoring the potentially offense sex and sin references), “Maurice Sendak, appearances, on location, books, literary references, monkeys!, Curious George, kids, injuries, animals, celebrities, polls, flags, North Pole, skiing, songs, technology, let’s move on.”

(Here is an aside, some parenthetical notes, several related to translation.

  • Sendak’s most famous book is the favorite book of the President of the United States of America, so says he in a speech to the American Library Association:
  • This same book was was banned by my son’s Christian preschool in Southern Virginia, USA, once upon a time.  So again think twice before you watch those interviews below.
  • My son went to preschool with his buddy from Finland.  Would the Finnish translation be censored in the same Christian preschool?  Would it ever be banned anywhere in Finland?
  • Finnish linguist, Riitta Oittinen looks at Sendak’s book in translation “as rereading and rewriting” since “every time a book is translated, it takes on a new language, a new culture, and new target-language readers.” She confesses something subjective, something very personal:

    “The reasons why I take such a special interest in translating picture books are twofold: cultural and national as well as individual. In Finland, we translate a lot: 70-80% of all the books published for children annually are translations.”

  • You can read Oittinen’s essay linked here:  “Where the Wild Things Are: Translating Picture Books.”
  • Here are “four different ASL [American Sign Language] translations by Charles Katz.
  • Here are the titles and covers of the French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Spanish, and English versions:

Now, if you still think you must watch (again) the interviews of the author, then here’s that wild rumpus with fair warning:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 1
www.colbertnation.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:406796
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 2
www.colbertnation.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:406902
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive
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