Sicilian Twerps and Afghan Boys: Translating Identity Issues into English from Italian Children's Literature in 1966 and 2011

Claudia Alborghetti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


In recent years the growing number of immigrants reaching Italy has undermined the identity of Europe at large. Although European governments understood “the importance of better integrating their minority populations into mainstream national life” (Spellman, 2008: 58), the question of national identity opposed to foreign immigration is still open to debate. Italian children’s literature dealt with integration in numerous novels, therefore this paper wishes to explore the identity of young immigrants in two stories from 1962 and 2010 translated into English. The methodology adopted relies on the work by Lefevere and Bassnett (1998): since translators do not work in a void, the strategies they adopt to bridge the cultural gap between source language and target language provide some hints about their knowledge of the source culture and of the target public. Describing translations dealing with the (perceived) identity of immigrants may shed light on the attitude of the source culture towards these people, but also whether in translation this attitude changes when the text is mediated for a different culture. In Il treno del sole (Renée Reggiani, 1962; tr. by Patrick Creagh, 1966) young Agata is forced to leave Sicily with her family to escape violence and bandits. As they reach Turin, they are treated like “Southerners”, foreigners, even though they are still Italians. Difficulties of language, customs,education, and body features (they are described with dark faces) make integration difficult. Especially the issue of language becomes crucial in the story of Enaiatollah Akbari in Nel mare ci sono i coccodrilli (Fabio Geda, 2010; tr. by Howard Curtis, 2011). An Afghan boy, Enaiatollah is sent away at ten by his mother hoping to find a better life. His journey will lead him to Turin, Italy, and in his description of this troubled adventure as an illegal immigrant he borrows terms from several – apparently very different – languages (Pakistani, English, Italian). The examples taken from these two novels in English translation help to define the degree of mediation, if any, for a young public learning about identity and integration issues that have become so urgent today. The results of this investigation suggest that the less mediation required, the more shared knowledge is expected from the target public, who is invited to learn about the other (Venuti, [1995] 2000) and understand more about the problems related to immigration from the point of view of the two young protagonists.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteReframing realities through Translation
EditorA. Almanna
Numero di pagine28
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2020
Pubblicato esternamente

Serie di pubblicazioni



  • Fabio Geda
  • Renée Reggiani
  • children's literature
  • letteratura per l'infanzia
  • tranduzione
  • translation


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