Book translation pre-dates the printing of books considerably. In fact, the very first book printed in English was a translation. William Caxton, who introduced the printing press to England, printed The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye in 1473, which he had translated from the French original of Raoul Lefèvre.
The world’s most translated book
Today, the world’s most translated book is The Bible. At least one book of the Bible has been translated into 2,883 languages; the New Testament has been translated into 1,329 languages; and the Old and New Testaments together have been translated into 531 languages.
Other religious books and pamphlets also feature on the list of the world’s most translated publications, thanks to the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the globe. Their publication, Listen to God and Live Forever, has been translated into 583 languages in total.
Leaving religion aside…
Leaving religion aside, the most translated book in the world is Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi. The beloved children’s tale of the little wooden boy has been translated into more than 260 languages since it was first published in 1883.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, has also fared well, having been translated into 253 languages since its publication in 1943. Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen’s Andersen’s Fairy Tales have also been widely translated.
And for grown ups…
When it comes to the top 25 most translated literary works, only one book is neither a religious text nor a children’s tale. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by French author Jules Verne has been translated into 148 languages since it was first published in serial format in 1869-1870. The adventure tale has struck a chord with readers around the world ever since.
Which is your favourite translated book? Do you ever read the same book in more than one language? Share your views in the comments section.