Once upon a time, there was a prince. And the prince was supposed to get married. But he did not fall in love with the princess. He fell in love with her brother. Some time ago, the originally Dutch fairy tale called King & King, which should teach children tolerance towards homosexuals, was published in the Czech Republic. The book was translated by Adéla Elbel, a PhD student at the Faculty of Arts. It has now received the highest award within the Registry of Artistic Results.
The student discovered the book while she was on Erasmus in Antwerp, Belgium, with her then five-year-old daughter. “I liked both the content and the visual appearance of the fairy tale.
The story is written in a very light and accessible way, so it can be easily understood even by children of pre-school age," adds Ms. Elbel to explain what she found intriguing about the book.
After returning home, she decided to translate the book and make sure that it is published in the Czech Republic. "I wanted to help eliminate social barriers. The elementary message of the book - that people can fall in love and live happily with a person of the same sex - unfortunately still continues to divide our society. It is important that young children also learn about other variants of family than the traditional one. If the concept is presented to them as a normal thing, they accept it as a normal thing and do not have a problem with that," says the PhD student of Dutch, who had her second child at the beginning of February.
The translator does not perceive the topic as controversial. "The book does not deprave children, on the contrary, it helps them to expand their horizons. And honestly, most of the children, to whom I read the book, were not astonished or shocked by the story. They just heard it out and did not dwell on it. And I think it is O.K. this way," she says.
However, it was not easy to get the book published in the Czech Republic. Ms. Elbel approached most Czech publishing houses and she was glad when they at least bothered to send their negative response. “Finally I found the enlightened publisher Ivana Pecháčková, from a small publishing house in Prague called Meander, who decided to publish the book," says the translator. She raised the money needed for publishing with help of a crowdsourcing website.
After it was published, the book received, as expected, both very warm welcome as well as very harsh rejection. "Fortunately, it is not in my nature to dwell on negative reactions when I believe in something so I was not touched by the vulgar reactions in any way."
The authors of the fairy tale Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland wrote a loose sequel to the story called King & King & Family. It addresses the topic of homosexual couples adopting children and Adéla Elbel is already negotiating about publishing the book with the Brno based publishing house Větrné mlýny. At the same time, she is working on other projects. This January, her translation of the novel Thirst by the Dutch author Esther Gerritsen was published. Now she is working on two other books. “One of them is a philosophical novel and the other is a book for about ten-year-olds which is again set in a gay family. I will probably stick to this topic for a while longer," comments Ms. Elbel.
She would once like to make her living by translating literature. “But since even the most modest people fail in this respect and since I am not so modest myself, for now I make my living by a variety of different activities. Literary translation has the highest priority, but it is not my main source of income," says the student who is also known as one of the singers of the controversial rapper band Čokovoko. She adds that despite being a mother of a new baby, she still plans on finishing her doctoral studies.