Four of the world’s top five most translated texts feature strongly Christian themes – reflecting perhaps an enthusiasm for “spreading the word” about Christianity to other nations and cultures.
But tucked away in that top five is an unlikely contender. The Adventures of Pinocchio: The tale of a puppet, written by Carlo Collodi and published in 1883, has been translated into a whopping 260 languages. It is second only to The Bible as the most translated text of all time.
Those in recent generations may be most familiar with Disney’s uplifting and somewhat sanitised animated version of Collodi’s tale, released in 1940. The original is a dark and meandering story in which our hero is variously robbed, kidnapped, stabbed, whipped, starved, jailed, punched and burned. The author was no fan of mischievous small boys and his puppet character serves as their proxy, regularly suffering the consequences of his lying, treachery and laziness.
In fact there are strong moral messages contained within The Adventures of Pinocchio, so perhaps it is not so out of place among the top five most translated texts after all. And whatever version of the story you prefer, the good news is that our hero comes out of his scrapes more or less in one piece!
For the record, the top five most translated texts are: