Facts and Figures

Translating Dutch Literature to Romanian – A Stream of Happy Coincidences. Two peripheric linguistic spaces often only meet by sheer coincidence, especially when it comes to literary works. Yet these coincidences are happy, fruitful ones. The Dutch to Romanian translations database shows that there are little over 105 writers from a Dutch-speaking area that have been made accessible to Romanian readers with a full-book of their own, excluding those contained within anthologies or poetry magazines.

Dutch Literature in Romania (2000-)

The most translated authors in Romania

Nooteboom, Huizinga and Anne Frank are the writers with the highest number of books translated into Romanian. Hubert Lampo, Arend van Dam, Loek Koopmans or Theun de Vries are rather unexpected names (from today’s perspective) to be amongst the most translated Dutch writers into Romanian. Paul Van Ostaijen is, as the first table shows, by far the most translated poet, with two such collections, followed by Eugene van Itterbeek. The genre that seems to have had the least success in Romanian translations is dramaturgy, with the only integral translated work being Vondel’s Gysbreght van Aemstel.

Regarding gender representation, a canon composed of Dutch to Romanian literary translations wouldn’t be very diverse, since there are only 24 female writers that have been translated into Romanian. Aside from established names like Tonke Dragt, Etty Hillesum, Marga Minco, Connie Palmen, Annet Schaap, Ida Simons or Annelies Verbeke, there are quite a few women writers that are less popular in their home countries who have also been translated, such as Jotie T’Hoofd, Gerry Velema-Drent, Evelien Jagtman or Brigitte Minne.

The most translated titles in Romania

Nooteboom is the writer with the highest number of books translated into Romanian, and has the most reissues (four reissues for his book Het volgende verhaal). He would then be closely followed by Huizinga whose book Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen has been reprinted four times, while his Homo Ludens has had three reissues. Other books that have been republished multiple times are Het dagboek van Anne Frank (three times) Couperus’ Iskander (twice) and Annelies Verbeke’s Slaap (twice).

The most important publishers in Romania

Publishing House Univers has translated the most books from Dutch. Since the Univers period very diverse, smaller and bigger publishing houses have started to be interested in books from the Netherlands and Belgium: from the two biggest ones (Humanitas and Polirom) and midrange publishers like Paralela 45, Curtea Veche, Trei, Pandora M, Casa de Editură Max Blecher to small, courageous initiatives like FrACTalia (Paul van Ostaijen) and Signatura (illustrated quality children books).

The most important translators in Romania

H. R. (Henri) Radian took it upon himself to dedicate most of his translating career to Dutch literature. Radian (1907-1992) was an architect, as well as a polyglot translator from Spanish, Portuguese and German. He translated Theun de Vries, Multatuli, Vondel, Hildebrand, Conscience, Louis Couperus, Simon Vestdijk, Hugo Claus, Hella Haasse and Herman Teirlinck. Radian is also renowned for his Huizinga translations and that of contemporary authors like Oek de Jong and Heere Heeresma and Hugo Raes. Radian received the Martinus Nijhoffprijs for this translations.

The second promotor of Dutch literature in Romania in chronological terms but definitely not second in importance, is Gheorghe Nicolaescu (1953). In 1984 he made his debut, translating The gang of Jan de Lichte, a Robin Hood like story written by Louis Paul Boon. He became the most prolific Romanian translator from Dutch, having already translated around 30 books. He is still active and he mostly translates contemporary literature by diverse authors such as Harry Mulisch, Connie Palmen, Hugo Claus, Cees Nooteboom, Marcel Möring, Bernlef, Annelies Verbeke, Arnon Grunberg, Margriet de Moor, Marente de Moor, Etty Hillesum and Hendrik Groen.