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Notes on PKD Translations into non-English Languages

Collected here for your convenience from the pages of  the Encyclopedia Dickiana is stuff on PKD in non-English languages:

Dear FDO,


    Yes, titles of translations; that is an amazing story. In Germany -- but not only here, I think -- the original title of a book or film doesn't mater. They change them like they want. It is worse with films but books aren't treated any better. So for example the German edition of THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH which was published by an honoured publisher (Suhrkamp) is titled 'LSD ASTRONAUTEN'!!!


    But worse is that until the 80s it was usual to shorten translations, sometimes they lost 30% - 60%. Dick was one of the victims, because nearly all his books originaly were published by Goldmann. (This publisher had for a long time only one translator for all SF books. It is told that he translated three books at the same time by talking on tape. What he didn't understand was cut)***

    Many publishers had a rule, that books had to have a certain length. If not: cut!

    So I was very disappointed reading the German edition of DR.BLOODMONEY. I thought it was a confused book, until I recognized that this edition was shortened by one third!!

    In the 80s many of these books were republished by Moewig in an uncut edition.

{Jurgen Thomann > FDO, 14 Aug 1993}{Thanks to Jurgen Thomann for the German PKD bibliographic info in our website}{*** note: Having entered all the German bibliographic info in the Encyclopedia Dickiana, the translation man Jurgen refers to is probably Tony Westermayr}

Mainstream That Through The Ghetto Flows

{... ...}

(Interviewer:) What do they think of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE in Germany?

(Dick:) They didn't know that I could read German. A publisher bought it in Germany and began to translate it, and when I learned that they'd bought it, I said, "Oh, no, you're not going to put that book out in Germany without letting me see the German translation." I said, "Listen, Scott, we're not going to let them publish that book lest I read the galleys. It's gotta be sine qua non. It's gotta be a condition." Well, they didn't have galleys. They just had the typescript, so they had to send that to us. When I started reading that thing, I could see that they had destroyed the book. They'd turned it into a travesty of itself. I actually burst into tears when I finished reading it. Here was my best novel, right, and they said, "We didn't know you could read German." They actually said that in their letter. They gave me five days to read it, and my German got very fluent. I stayed up night and day with my Cassell's German-English Dictionary and I read every single word, comparing the German line by line with the English. They hadn't changed any of the political parts--all the anti-Nazi stuff was still there. They'd just turned it into a cheap adventure novel. I remember one part where it read: Tagomi stolzierte einher wie Wyatt Earp." Now, I never mentioned Wyatt Earp in my book. "Tagomi swaggered like Wyatt Earp"! "Tagomi swaggered like Vyatt Oorp"!

(Interviewer:) What about Japan?

(Dick:) I can't read Japanese. I can read the English titles of my novels in the bio section in the back. So help me--I don't mean this as a slur against the Japanese--but they listed Valuable Man instead of Variable Man. Somebody suggested I write the translator and ask him specific questions about the book, and he did write back. Now, I thought the Japanese were supposed to be very polite, but I was wrong. First of all, he said, "Your book wasn't any good to start with.'' Secondly, he said, "You've also confused Chinese culture and Japanese culture. The Chinese are inferior people, and the I Ching's Chinese and not Japanese. No Japanese would ever use some Confucian classic. Only foreigners use those." I was quite amazed at how up-front he was in his contempt for the book, but it's still in print in Japan. It's sold very well, and I've made almost thirty-five dollars off of it. Over a ten-year period. One time, I got a check for forty-two cents, and Scott Meredith had taken out two cents. A check for forty-two cents. It was the royalty for a copy that had sold in Tanganyika or some place like that. One copy, and my royalty's forty-two cents. And Scott took out two cents and sent me a check for forty cents. I was so broke, I cashed it. I wrote dirty words on the back of it for a long time, and finally I went up to the Seven Eleven and bought a Manhandler Meat Pie or something.

BGSU Papers

Dear Mr. Kawaguchi,

        I am told by Mr. Fukushima of Hayakawa Shobo & Company that you translated my novel, MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. I wonder if I could ask you several questions about the Japanese edition. Viz.:

Did the novel sell well in Japan?

Were the reviews of the novel favorable? If so, what did the reviewers like, and if not, what did they dislike?

I like Japanese people and Japan (which I would very much like to visit). In the novel did I manage to convey my positive feelings toward Japan and the Japanese? I felt that the Japanese occupation of the USA, described in the novel, would be stern but fair -- unlike the German. A major aspect of the novel was my desire to contrast the two, German and Japanese occupation. Did this contrast get across? I would be very distressed if it turned out that my favorable feelings toward Japan did not come across in the novel, as seen from your standpoint. After all, the basis of the novel was Mr. Tagomi's thwarting of German designs, his deep humanitarian quality which defied the German authorities. Of all the fiction I have written, nothing has meant more to me than the scene in which Mr. Tagomi confronts the German authorities and wins out against them, in the name of humanity.

Did the special speech of the Japanese living in the USA West Coast seem convincing to you? Or did I misrepresent the Jpanese manner of speaking English? I would be very upset if, in your opinion, this special speech was not convincing.

Did you yourself personally like the novel?

I am sorry to be putting so many questions to you, but all this is very important to me. I am sorry for causing you any inconvenience, and any and all answers you might give me to the above questions would be quite valuable to me. Thank you very much for your trouble and time, and I will hope to hear from you.


{PKD > Shokichi Kawaguchi (Tokyo), 12-8-68}

{Thanks to Patrick Clark and the PKD Trust. As are all these letters taken from the BGSU Collection excerpted herein, this material is copyright, The Philip K. Dick Trust. All rights reserved... For information contact Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency, Inc., 381 Park Avenue South, ste.1020, New York, NY 10016.}

Note: It's not only the foreign publishers who mangle PKD's novels and stories. See SOLAR LOTTERY for the story behind the fractured first United Kingdom edition from Rich & Cowan (titled: WORLD OF CHANCE)

PKD in Russian {from a Russian PKD website whose address I can't figure out}

But first I would like to say a work about some traditions of Russian
publishing business. In Russia about 99% of books (at least SF books)
are hardback. I`ve never seen any PKD book, for instance, that was
paperback (at least have not seen up to date) so all the books listed
below are hardback. Another thing is, 99% of our books contain more
than one single novel of the author chosen. usually we have two-three
novels in one edition or a couple of novels and a few short stories or
several novellae and short stories or whatever like that. So, don`t be
surprised that I`ll list several titles in one book.I listed here all
books that I know, it`s not exactly the full list.

There is yet another thing about this page. The content of "Russian
version" and this version do not even get close. 90% of Russian
internet users don`t read English, that`s why the "Russian version" of
the page contains usual information like PKD biography and so on.
Mostly that information is translated by me from other English language
sites concerning PKD.

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