The Adventure of My Translating Lewis Carroll’s Masterpieces into Burmese

The Adventure of My Translating Lewis Carroll’s Masterpieces into Burmese

In my childhood, I was familiar with the story of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by reading the Illustrated Classics, and by watching Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland based on Alice books of Lewis Carroll, little knowing that one day I would become a writer, and would be able to read the original book of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and translate it into Burmese.

(‘Alice in Wonderland’ Classis Illustrated that my father used to read when he was 5 years old.)

When I began to read the original book of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, I already had the Master degree, and was already a writer. I liked, and enjoyed the book very much. I asked my father whether it was already translated into Burmese. It was not. My father (a mathematics professor) also said that some logic, and philosophical terms in the story were difficult to explain if you are not a mathematician. But he encouraged me to translate the book into Burmese.

(‘Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s original book (since 1900, The Nelson Classics) that I read in 2005.)

My father, Dr. Khin Maung Win was also a writer, and wrote serial articles in The Working People’s Daily newspaper in 1987. Among them was Mathematics and the World Around Us – ‘Making Sense out of Nonsense- Fairy Tale or Mathematical Treatise?’ on which you will find his mathematical point of view on the Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’.

(The pieces from The Working People’s Daily newspaper on 9, November 1987, an article written by my father, and the drawing of Alice by my twin brother, Maung Yit.)

Better known under the pen name Lewis Carroll, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, said my father, Dodgson was not only an English writer, but also a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, and also a logician, and philosopher. If you want to translate his book, you should have the writing skill, as well as the knowledge of mathematics, and the ability of the language know-how. My grandfather taught me English, and I obtained my master degree in Mathematics, and I inherited the writing skill from my grandmother (Khin Myo Chit). So I would be perfect to translate ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Most important of all; -  I really like this book, and I was happy to translate it.

During my translation, I watched the movie again, and again, and also reread the illustrated classic. I did not know why some characters (such as Tweedledum & Tweedledee, etc) shown in the movie are not found in the Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I thought they were Walt Disney’s creations. I copied the song ‘Unbirthday’ from the movie, and wrote about it in my preface. I used the drawing of a pair of ‘Alice, and a mouse’ from the old Illustrated Classics, the original drawings of John Tenniel from the Wikipedia, and the self-portrait of Lewis Carroll found in French Literature book, ‘Les Paroles de Lewis Carroll’. My father wrote a short biography of Lewis Carroll, and John Tenniel for me.

(A copy of the drawing of ‘Alice and a mouse’ in the Classics Illustration (left), and my translation of that part of the story (right). Illustrated by Alex A.Blum.)

(The cover of ‘Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland’ in Burmese released in 2006.) (The picture used there, was the illustration from the movie Walt Disney. It was Ko Tar’s hard work. He wanted to show the beautiful, and colorful cover.)

Ko Tar (publisher, and writer) was interested in my book. He also suggested my father to translate ‘Alice in Wonderland’ into Burmese. Now, he was happy to publish it. After ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in Burmese was published in 2006, I started to read Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. The characters missing in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and the meaning of ‘unbirthday’ were found in the book ‘Through the Looking Glass’. I decided to translate it into Burmese. I liked it, that’s why I wanted to translate it. But the first publisher, Ko Tar could not publish it because of his difficulties. He returned the manuscript to me. But I could not find a publisher who was willing to publish my book so far. I kept it in my desk for some years. In 2008, my translated book, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was awarded for the Children Literary genre from the Htun Foundation.

(‘Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass’ (since 1900, The Nelson Classics) that I read in 2009.)

(I received gold medal for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in Burmese translation in 2008.)

Later, my brother advised me to publish ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ in Burmese as Kindle ebook before it would be misplaced. That’s sound great! It might not be lost as long as Kindle lived! In 2014, my translation of Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice Through The Looking Glass’ in Burmese appeared as ebook at Amazon. It would rest in peace for the rest of its life.

(The cover of my ebook, ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ that I designed in 2014.)
(Here is the link,

When the time came to celebrate the Nobel Myanmar Children Literary Festival in Rangoon in 2016, it attracted all our publishers. Among the sections celebrated for the Children Literary Festival, the first section showed a hundred different children books on a central desk. Hopefully, the audience would pay a great deal of attention to them. Most of publishers in Burma grasped this opportunity. They rushed to prepare Children books (old or new) to publish on time. One of publishers contacted me, and asked me whether I had written a children’s book ready to publish. Then my translated book ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, and my first translated book of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ as second edition came to join the hundred children books.

(‘Alice in Wonderland’ second edition, and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ in Burmese published in 2016.)

2 years later in 2018, Kazumi Goto, a Professor Emeritus of Hosei University, one of the founder members of Lewis Carroll Society of Japan, became interested in my translation of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ at Amazon Kindle. His student contacted me, and was looking for my translation in print on the part of his professor. I was surprised, and as well as pleased for hearing their interest of my books. I came to learn that they admired not only the works of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpieces, but also were interested in the translations of Alice around the world.

My brother suggested that I should have my translation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in Burmese published at Amazon too. I chose the first edition of it.

Lewis Carroll (January 1832 – January 1898) published ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in1865, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ in 1871. His other books were about mathematics such as Algebra, Geometry, etc. Here, I honored him by writing this article for the 186th Anniversary of Lewis Carroll, 120th Anniversary of Lewis Carroll passing, 153rd of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and 157th of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ for the year 2018.

Long Live Lewis Carroll!