Paratexts and Translation of the Exotic

The German, French, and English Covers of Maria Parr’s Vaffelhjarte and Tonje Glimmerdal

  • Marcus Axelsson
  • Ragnhild Næsje
Keywords: translation studies, image analysis, Maria Parr, source culture, paratexts, book covers


This article investigates how the covers of two novels, Vaffelhjarte (Waffle Hearts, 2005) and Tonje Glimmerdal (Astrid the Unstoppable, 2009) by the Norwegian children’s fiction author Maria Parr, are visually and verbally translated into German, French, and English. The central question of this study is how representations of characters, theme, and geographical context are rendered in the target text paratexts. Methodologically, the study is inspired by Gunther Kress and Theo Van Leeuwen’s grammar of visual design. The results show that the target paratexts to a large extent reflect the novel, but in different ways and not necessarily by staying close to the source paratexts. Previous research on paratexts and translation shows that exotic source text elements tend to be foregrounded in translation. This is something that we also see regarding the French and the British Parr translations, but not the German. Drawing on previous research by Kathryn Batchelor and Maria Pujol-Valls, we would like to put forward the hypothesis that verbal text – that is, the narrative in the novel – and paratexts behave differently in translation. As verbal text, according to previous research, often is more adapted to the target culture when migrating from a peripheral system (Norway) to more central ones (France and Great Britain), the opposite seems to be the case for translated paratexts, where exotic source culture elements are reinforced in central systems. Concerning the German cover, where there was no foregrounding of exotic source culture elements, we raise the possibility that such foregrounding is not needed, since German readers are already familiar with Scandinavian children’s literature.

How to Cite
Axelsson, M., & Næsje, R. (2021). Paratexts and Translation of the Exotic: The German, French, and English Covers of Maria Parr’s Vaffelhjarte and Tonje Glimmerdal . Barnboken, 44.
Tema: Översättning/Theme: Translation