Friday, May 06, 2011
“A bird of arts and letters”
Dr. Fuchs's Donald was no ordinary comic creation. He was a bird of arts and letters, and many Germans credit him with having initiated them into the language of the literary classics. The German comics are peppered with fancy quotations. In one story Donald's nephews steal famous lines from Friedrich Schiller's play “William Tell”; Donald garbles a classic Schiller poem, “The Bell,” in another. Other lines are straight out of Goethe, Hölderlin and even Wagner (whose words are put in the mouth of a singing cat). The great books later sounded like old friends when readers encountered them at school. As the German Donald points out, “Reading is educational! We learn so much from the works of our poets and thinkers.”
But even the “adult” ducks end up sounding more colorful than they do in English. Fuchs applied alliteration liberally, as, for example, in Donald's bored lament on the beach in “Lifeguard Daze.” In the English comic, he says: “I'd do anything to break this monotony!” The über-gloomy German version: “How dull, dismal and deathly sad! I'd do anything to make something happen.”
Via Tim Carmody (filling in for Jason Kottke), Why Donald Duck is the Jerry Lewis of Germany - WSJ.com
I've heard that Donald Duck & Co. comic books were always more popular in Europe than here but I never quite understood why until this article. The dialog wasn't dumbed down, it was cranked up! And it outsold Superman.
Who'd a thunk it?