Works in Translation Archives

July 8, 2007

The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein (1892)
View the or PDF or Flip Book

The "dance of death" or "danse macabre" was a "medieval allegorical concept of the all-conquering and equalizing power of death, expressed in the drama, poetry, music, and visual arts of western Europe, mainly in the late Middle Ages. It is a literary or pictorial representation of a procession or dance of both living and dead figures, the living arranged in order of their rank, from pope and emperor to child, clerk, and hermit, and the dead leading them to the grave." (Encyclopedia Britannica). This week's digitized book contains reproductions of one of the most famous expressions of this dance--forty-two wood cuts by Hans Holbien (1497-1543). In the two images below, death (represented by a skeleton) visits both the rich man and the peddlar alike. Over 100 editions of Holbein's Dance of Death have been published since the original French edition appeared in 1538. This book is one of several hundred works in translation that the Library is digitizing to support the program of study at the Center for Translation Studies being established at UIUC.


September 30, 2007

Les aventures de Huck Finn : l'ami de Tom Sawyer ([1886])
View the PDF. View the Flip Book.

A fitting selection for the launch of the American Library Association's annual Banned Books Week ( is this first French edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from UIUC's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Ranking fifth on ALA's list of The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2001, Twain's timeless telling of the adventures of Tom Sawyer's best friend Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, has been the target of censors since it was first published in 1884. In 1885, it was banned from the shelves of the Public Library of Concord, Massachusetts, when the board decided Twain's book lacked gentility, contained coarse language, and its hero, Huck, challenged his elders and told lies. Objections to the book in the last 40 or so years has focused on perceptions of racism and insensitivity due to the use of the term "nigger" in reference to Jim. However, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Russell Baker pointed out in the New York Times in 1982, "The people whom Huck and Jim encounter on the Mississippi are drunkards, murderers, bullies, swindlers, lynchers, thieves, liars, frauds, child abusers, numskulls, hypocrites, windbags and traders in human flesh. All are white. The one man of honor in this phantasmagoria is 'Nigger Jim,' as Twain called him to emphasize the irony of a society in which the only true gentleman was held beneath contempt."


About Works in Translation

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Digitized Book of the Week in the Works in Translation category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.35