7Brands, a translation service, has put together this slightly confusing infographic (link via Ink, Bits, & Pixels). Not all of the 50 books are illustrated — some are shown spine out at the right hand side of the shelf. I sympathize with the comment on the 7Brands site that “it misses a well known collection of 66 books that have been translated into 531 languages with a subset of 27 books that have been translated into 1860 languages with hundreds more on the way”. Surely The Bible isn’t the only thing missing. What about all of classical literature (not to mention literary classics)? Maybe there haven’t been 253 translations of Plato’s Republic, but there must have been more than 30. Heck I think I’ve seen 30 in English alone, and that’s about as many as we seem to bring out of Homer every year! My post “Translation – Style” showed a “poem” consisting of 48 different English translations of the first stanza of Dante’s Divine Comedy. I suppose 7Brands meant to head their list “50 of the world’s most translated books which were first published in the last couple of hundred years” or maybe “50 of the world’s most translated books that you wouldn’t have expected to find on this list” but those are obviously just a bit too awkward. They do publish the sources from which they gathered their data, but not, as far as I can see, their selection criteria. Maybe it’s just the 50 books that come up in response to some Google search!

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