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.: A trip to Mother Russia :.

Today we are going to travel to Russia! The largest country in the world by land mass couldn't escape from the Potter mania. Although there are still plenty of people there who have never heard about the series (sometimes I ask myself whether these people really live on this planet...) there are also lots of fans who rush to the bookstores in order to buy their own copy, a scene that we've seen quite often around the world when it comes to Harry Potter. Nevertheless, just like in any other culture, the impact of Potter's British background has produced interesting stories, not to mention the witchcraft plot that seems to mischief kids' naive minds (just like mine!), which I decided to talk about in another editorial (that is: you're not going to find anything about it now, okay?)

The first thing that Russians (and everyone that's not an English speaker, I guess) complain about is the translations. In Mother Russia, it sounded even ghastlier, though. The translations of the first four books were done by people whose names I don't know (if you do, please send me an email), but whose job was widely criticized for inaccuracies, a lack of fantasy, and for inserting moralizing passages that weren't in the original copies. And to make it even worse, they took too much time to do it, making the Russian translations one of the last being released. This just stimulated the growth of Russian amateur "alternative" versions on the Internet, spreading what one may call "piracy".

In order for a better job be done in the fifth book, Rosman, the Russian publishing house of the series, hired a very experienced professional to be the doyen of a team of three translators: Viktor Golyshev. He had done a brilliant job translating books like: 1984 by George Orwell, Theophilus North by Thornton Wilder, Light in August by William Faulkner, and many others from remarkable authors. Rosman had all the trumps in hand, but forgot one thing: Mr. Golyshev's temper. After the success of the translation - that was considered the best Russian version of the Harry Potter series - he was obviously invited to a lot of interviews, TV programs, talk shows, and started to turn into a star in his country. However, he didn't like becoming more famous for his Potter translation than his previous works. The point is that he doesn't seem to enjoy Rowling's masterpiece at all! After been asked whether he had read the series before being its translator, he gave such a lukewarm answer: "Hell no, what am I, 8 years old?" - Needless to say anything, uh? (I don't know why, but he strongly reminds me of Filch!)

Opening a parenthesis in my text, there's a funny thing about the Russian translation: Harry Potter is "Garri Potter" (or Ăappu Nottep, in their alphabet). This is because of the sound of the letter "h" (that aspirate sound you make when you say "hospital") that doesn't exist - as far as I am concerned - in Russian. Thus, they decided to change it to a "g" (the same sound of the verb "go") that is the letter " Ă " in the Russian alphabet. Why? No idea. (Again, if one knows the answer for it, please e-mail me) Interesting, isn't it? Okay, now close the brackets.

Besides having to choose between an awkward team or a blatant translator, the Potter Russians fans have other kinds of problems to face with. In the beginning of 2003, a Russian law firm tried to sue the Warner Bros Corporation. Okay, this happens quite often, especially when it comes to moneymaking books/movies, such as Harry Potter. The problem (a ridiculous one, I might say) was the reason they wanted to sue WB. They argued that Dobby, the domestic-elf that appears in the Chamber of Secrets film, bears a resemblance to Russian president Vladimir Putin and drew up a legal action against the special effects people who dreamt him up!! The Kremlin declined to say anything about it, but the fans vented their anger over this via the Internet. You can make your own conclusions about the supposed likeness comparing the pictures I brought to you. Check them out:

(Gosh, their forehead!) What do you think?? Well, word has it the same firm is trying to sue J. K. Rowling now, for modeling Dolores Umbridge after Margaret Thatcher! Poor guys! Never learn¦

"T-that's it, f-folks!" I want to thank you all for accompanying me in this trip to Russia and remember that if you've got any funny stories such as the ones I have told here, send me an e-mail, because I can travel to your country too, just to tell everybody what you have for us!

See you later.


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