Jule und die Seeräuber

I found Jule und die Seeräuber by Astrid Lindgren in the book section of Chatswood Salvos. The first thing I did was try and guess what a Seeräuber was. It sounded good, a nice, round word, but I could not guess who, or what, it was. The pictures in the book didn’t help, although I saw that I would be in for a rollicking adventure.


The world’s slowest rollicking adventure, as it has taken me weeks to progress to the second page. Of course I am doing many other things as well as translating Jule und die Seeräuber, like going on bike-riding errands and reading Kelly Link stories and writing about knitting machines and being interviewed about “living the 70s”.

The first thing I did was look up Seeräuber, and found out that it meant “pirate”. It was going to be one of those stories where a little girl meets a pirate, perhaps even outsmarts a pirate. I know such stories well, I grew up reading stories about smart girls. In the books I had as a child, girls were either plucky and adventurous, or invalids. Both seemed equally as appealing, and both were subsumed into my identity.
But Jule looks a bit too young to outsmart a pirate, and I have a long way to go until I get into the story. I encountered a confusing patch on the first page, which involved Großvater, and this discouraged me. I could not work out what he was doing – surely he wasn’t, as my dictionary suggested, falling off the roof over and over to amuse Jule, whenever she said “Jetzt!” (“Now!”). My frustrations settled into a dislike of Großvater himself. He was the one making the translation so difficult. I was pleased when I translated the sentence about him hitting his thumb with the hammer:
“…und er haut sich mit dem Hammer auf den Daumen, sobald er versucht, einen Nagel einzuschlagen”. Take that Großvater!
With Großvater punished, I closed the book and put it beside my bed, in between “the Armstrong Book of Interior Decoration” and “The Discovery of Animal Behaviour”. I left it there for weeks, but pirates started entering my dreams. I shut my eyes and saw feathers falling down the inside of my eyelids. Today I could stand it no longer, and picked up the book again. I am now on to page two. Jule has an uncle who is ten years old. I agree, es is ungewöhnlich!


One Response to “Jule und die Seeräuber”

  1. Nicholas Says:

    Oh, Astrid! I read a lot of her as a kid, but I don’t recognise this one. Pippi Longstocking had run-ins with pirates. However I’m pretty sure she wrote originally in Swedish, so it’s not surprising that something might get lost in the double translation.

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