Tõlkepärl eesti ilukirjanduse algusaegadest – esimene eestikeelne robinsonaad / A Translation Gem from the Beginnings of Estonian Literature - the First Robinsonade


  • Ave Mattheus Tallinn University




tõlkimine, tõlkekirjandus, mugandused, robinsonaad, Joachim Heinrich Campe, Heinrich Gottlieb Lorenzsonn, translating, translations, adaptations, Robinsonade, Heinrich Joachim Campe


Teesid: Artiklis uuritakse Eesti Kirjandusmuuseumis asuvat mahukat, ligi 800 lk tõlkekäsikirja „Norem Robinson“, mida võib pidada esimeseks eesti kirjanduse täiemahuliseks robinsonaadiks. Selle valmistas Pärnu koolmeister Heinrich Gottlieb Lorenzsonn saksa pedagoogi ja koolikirjaniku Joachim Heinrich Campe menukast noorsooromaanist „Robinson der Jüngere“ (1779–1780). Tõlge valmis 1822.–1823. aastal, kuid jõudis trükki alles 1842. aastal tugevasti kärbitud ja mugandatud kujul. Toetudes deskriptiivse tõlkeuurimuse analüüsikategooriatele, vaadeldakse artiklis, millised tegurid tõlkeprotsessi suunasid ja milline oli kultuuriruum, kuhu tõlge omal ajal paigutus.


This article discusses a voluminous manuscript translation of almost 800 pages entitled Norem Robinson (Engl. Robinson the Younger), from the collections of the Estonian Literary Museum. This manuscript can be considered as the first complete Robinsonade in Estonian literature. Its author is a schoolteacher from Pärnu, Heinrich Gottlieb Lorenzsonn (1803–1847), who translated it from the youth novel Robinson der Jüngere(1779–1780, Engl. Robinson the Younger), a bestseller by the educator, writer and a major representative of German Enlightenment, Heinrich Joachim Campe. Lorenzsonn’s translation was completed in 1822–1823, but not printed until 1842 in a strongly adapted version titled Norema Robinsoni ello ja juhtumised ühhe tühja sare peäl (Engl. The Life and Adventures of Robinson the Younger on a deserted island). The print version of the Robinsonade lacks a pedagogical frame story, where the father tells children about the adventures of Robinson and takes the opportunity to discuss and imitate with children all the actions taken by Robinson the Younger. Due to this and other extirpated parts, the possible target audience was enlarged – besides children and youth, the text was now addressed to adults as well.

In accordance with the Descriptive Translation Studies, this article focused on the one hand on the Lorenzsonn's Campe-translation, and on the other hand, on the context of the target culture, arriving at conclusions concerning the factors influencing the translation process. The article uses Gideon Toury’s treatment of translation norms to discuss ideosyncrasies of the participants of the translation process (translator, mentor, censor), as well as the relevance of other norms. First preliminary norms regarding translation policy are analysed. Secondly, initial norms determine whether the translation is oriented to the source text and culture (the goal is adequacy) or to the target text and culture (the goal is acceptance). Thirdly, operational norms direct particular translation decisions. Operational translation norms can be divided further into matricial norms that concern the fullness of the translated text and textual-linguistic norms that concern the questions of grammar, syntax, style etc.

The article focuses on the presumed decisions of Heinrich Gottlieb Lorenzsonn and his teacher and mentor, well-known Baltic German Estophile Johann Heinrich Rosenplänter, in the translation process. In addition, the article discusses the educational circumstances in primary schools for peasants in Estonia in the first half of the 19th century and the reading skills of potential Estonian-speaking readers at that time. Clearly, at the beginning of the 19th century, the Estonian-speaking audience was too small and not yet ready for such voluminous, demanding aesthetic and scientific reading materials. The comparative analysis of the translation manuscript and the printed text focuses on the lexical, semantic and grammatical levels, concluding that the manuscript aspires to adequacy with respect to Campe’s Robinsonade, but the printed version appeals to the Estonian-speaking reader and the Estonian cultural context. This can be explained by the fact that the aim of the manuscript was language study, while with the printed book Lorenzsonn wanted to bring the huge translation work from his early years to the literary market.

Although both texts are linguistically clumsy, and the printed text has lost value because of the extirpations, it is still a translation gem dating from the very beginnings of Estonian literature, one that has not received sufficient recognition in Estonian literary history. The translation work of Heinrich Gottlieb Lorenzsonn, carried out at a time when the Estonian language was not yet fully developed is also a fact that has not been acknowledged as it well deserves to be. Further, this article undertakes to rectify two misunderstandings of Estonian literary history. First, Lorenzsonn’s Campe-translation is not a chapbook, although Estonian literary history has always defined it as such. It is demanding reading material which aims to enlarge the horizon of the Estonian-speaking reader in fields such as exotic flora and fauna, morals and ethics, and different methods of work, while simultaneously entertaining the reader and offering aesthetic pleasure. The second misunderstanding concerns the fact that the first Robinsonade of Estonian literature is considered to be Weikisi Hanso luggu tühja sare peal, (1839, Engl. A Story of the Little Hans on an deserted island) an adaptation by Johann Thomasson from Gottfried der Einsiedler (1829, Engl. Gottfried, the hermit), a youth story by German Pietist and children’s and youth writer Christoph von Schmid. Even though Thomasson’s Robinsonade, which can without hesitation be defined as a chapbook, was printed a few years earlier than Lorenzsonn’s Campe adaptation, Lorenzsonn accomplished his translation twenty years earlier. Also, in terms of artistic quality and translation techniques, Lorenzsonn’s huge work is on a much higher level than Thomasson’s adaptation.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Ave Mattheus, Tallinn University

Ave Mattheus – PhD in Estonian literature, associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the Institute of Estonian Language and Culture, Tallinn University. Research interests: literature of German-speaking cultures, Estonian-German literary relations, Estonian children’s and youth literature, translation theory. 






Artiklid / Articles