Demons and Angels

by Marie Marshall

A few days ago I asked you this question: What well-known character in children’s fiction is known in Chinese as Fú Dìmó? I had many interesting answers either as comments or tweets, some of which are contained in the montage below – including the correct character, which nobody guessed. Have a look at the montage, and see if you can spot the correct character. I’ll reveal the answer below.

Who is Fu Dimo?

I’m guessing that you had no trouble identifying each of the characters in the montage. Each answer was imaginative, even if Fu Manchu and the cast of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stretched the idea of ‘children’s fiction’ a little far. Whoever guessed Harry Potter probably got the closest, but still ‘no cigar’.

The correct answer is… Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter canon. You could have spotted the phonetic similarity between ‘Voldemort’ and ‘Fú Dìmó’. It might have been easier to spot if the translators had gone with their first idea, and had used a character ‘Fo’ instead of ‘Fu’. However ‘Fo’ can have associations with Buddha, and that might not have seemed appropriate for such a villainous character as Voldemort. It has been pointed out that the etymology of the name ‘Voldemort’ suggests ‘wish of death’. This fact reminds me of the difficulty of translating literary texts (I have done a little translating, mainly between French and English, and I briefly worked with the late Vera Rich, proof-reading an unfinished translation from Belarusian to English). JKR’s translators went for a phonetic rendering with an appropriately sinister meaning, rather than taking a meaning from the etymology of the original.

Anyhow, thank you to everyone who played the game with me.

That takes care of today’s demon. Now what about tomorrow’s angels? Just a quick update on The Everywhen Angels, my soon-to-be-published novel.  We have completed the major editing stage and are now looking at the first full draft, with our eyes open for any missed typos and new glitches. I received this comment from the publisher’s editor, himself no mean novelist: “… the book is something special. The characterisation is convincing. The narrative is entertaining and gripping, but at the same time shows a wealth of knowledge and research and introduces challenging food for thought on abstract matters…” That is quite something for a YA book. We’re still waiting for cover art, but hopefully the book will be out well before Christmas and in time for the publisher’s schools promotion.

More news as I get it.