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Translated Giants: The Most Translated Books Around the World

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Today, we know for sure that the most translated books are truly eternal and will never be forgotten, for there's a saying that you live a new life for every language you speak. And some of the books have been translated into hundreds or even thousands of languages and dialects around the world. Today, the number of languages that books become translated into grows rapidly as there’s a number of translation services that can actually translate the whole book for you, making opportunities for reading almost limitless. As a result, you can essentially have your own unique translation for the book you like the most in any language you want. Yet, which book has been translated in most languages? The following list will certainly give you some surprising answers and, of course, a great opportunity to read the book you know well in another language.

Top 10 Most Translated Books

With the advancement of technology and globalization, many books have been translated into a vast variety of languages, accounting for hundreds and sometimes even thousands of translations. The most translated books are those of fiction, of course, yet, some literature pieces of other genres get popular enough to be translated into hundreds of languages as well. Some of these books are well-known and can also be found on the list of best selling books, yet, there are, of course, less popular ones. After all, popularity might sometimes not last long, but the translation will certainly remain. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of books and their languages and find out more about them!

10. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

Being one of the most famous novels originally written in Spanish is also one of the most translated ones. The story tells us about the man from La Mancha who read a bit too many books about knights and decided to revive the chivalry. Translated into over 140 languages, the book is often viewed as one of the first pieces of modern fiction. Since its publication in 1615, the book never lost its fame and remains one of the most popular books translated to English. By the way, one of the most accurate and arguably the best English translation of the book was made by John Ormsby back in 1885.

9. Fairy Tales, by Hans Christian Andersen

The fairy tales collected, interpreted, and originally translated into Danish by H.C. Andersen became extremely popular around the entire world. The stories of Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, and the Snow Queen have gotten very close to so many European and American readers’ hearts. Translated into about 160 languages, the tales of H.C. Andersen remain loved by millions of kids around the world today.

8. Am I Small? by Philipp Winterberg

A warm-hearted story of a girl named Tamia who is not sure whether she’s tall enough has become extremely popular and one of the most translated books in the world largely thanks to digital technology. Written in German and translated into over 160 languages, the book remains well-known since its first publication in 2013.

7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

A truly wondrous story about the girl trapped in the mad world of Wonderland is very famous around the world indeed. In his most well-known piece, Lewis Carroll discusses what it means to be brave, selfless, and sane for a little girl in the apparently crazy noble English society at the time. The story has been translated into 174 languages as of today and remains popular among both children and adults.

6. My Book of Bible Stories, by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania

Being perhaps one of the most popular publications of Bible stories for children, the book also remains one of the most translated books in the world. First written in English in 1978 by one of the biggest Jehovah’s Witnesses societies in the U.S., the book was translated into 194 as of 2020 and the number is counting.

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5. Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan

One of the first novels written in English, one of the most significant works in Christian fiction, and, of course, one of the most translated works of literature was written by John Bunyan back in 1678. The novel tells an allegorical story of a man named Christian that goes on a pilgrimage journey to the metaphorical heaven. The second part of the book retells the original story, yet, from the perspectives of other people in Christian’s life.

4. Dao De Jing, by Lao Tzu

The most ancient work on this list is also one of the most famous and respected philosophical pieces in human history. Written originally in Classical Chinese in around 400 B.C., the book is a collection of texts and teachings about the importance of the human path and virtues in life. The book was translated into over 250 languages since its discovery in the Western world in the 20th century and remains one of the most translated books of Chinese origin.

3. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Getting to our finalists, the Little Prince is one of the most well-known books for children written in the midst of World War II. Originally published in French in 1942 and translated into 382 languages and dialects, the story of the Little Prince is quite unique for being one of the best selling and most translated literature works at the same time in the world to date. Since its first publication, the book has sold over 150 million copies. The warm-hearted tale of the Little Prince is a semi-autobiographical work of Saint-Exupery that tells about an allegorical encounter between an unnamed WWII pilot with a child after the former’s plane crashes in the desert. While there is some controversy about whether the Little Prince is the third or the second most translated book, Saint-Exupery’s work remains an eternal philosophical tale.

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2. The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi

The story of the wooden boy who claimed and then proved to be real was translated into more than 300 languages and adapted in over 250 languages from its original Italian. In addition, hundreds of movie adaptations exist in perhaps as many languages. This makes this fairy tale one of the most popular ones to date. The story of Pinocchio has been told to generations of children since 1883 when it was first published. In addition, one can have no doubts when thinking about who is the most translated author of all time. With this story being told and retold over a number of decades, that’s got to be Carlo Collodi.

1. The Holy Bible

Christianity became a great force for the past 2000 years, and the Bible, the major written work in the religion, proves that. This book will perhaps remain the leader in terms of the number of languages it has been translated to. While being translated in its entirety into over 670 languages and dialects, the work accounts for a total of over 3,000 languages and dialects of a partial translation with at least one book from the Bible being translated. Scoring so highly, it still remains unknown how many times has the Bible been translated as this number may reach hundreds of thousands of editions and interpretations.

To Sum Up

The world is full of wonderful books to read. It’s so wonderful that so many people around the world can read them all today, largely thanks to the capabilities of modern translation and digital technology. With all that at hand, you can essentially enjoy any book you like in any language that is convenient for you to read in. So dive in and read more as the language barrier becomes thinner every day! See our blog for more interesting and useful information if you’d like to know what is the best selling book of all time besides the Bible or who was the most accurate translator in history.