TTT: Classics by Women in Translation

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly meme put on by the Broke and Bookish where they give a topic and book bloggers post their top ten choices on it. This week’s topic is:

August 29: Ten Hidden Gem Books in X Genre: Pick a genre and share with us some books that have gone under the radar in that genre!

I’m going a little off topic this week in order to keep us within the monthly theme of Women in Translation and post some classics by women in translation. While two of these books are well known, I do consider this to be a list of hidden gems within classics because I searched quite a few lists of classic literature and not much was by women in translation. Also, I haven’t read all of them, so I’ll be posting the synopsis with them instead of a review.


  1. The Diary of a Young GirlWhile this is required reading in a lot of schools, it’s not one that I’ve had the pleasure of reading yet. add to Goodreads

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.


2. Pippi LongstockingPippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Lauren Child and Nancy Seligsohn, translated by Florence Lamborn

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The beloved story of a spunky young girl and her hilarious escapades.

Tommy and his sister Annika have a new neighbor, and her name is Pippi Longstocking. She has crazy red pigtails, no parents to tell her what to do, a horse that lives on her porch, and a flair for the outrageous that seems to lead to one adventure after another!


3. MalinaMalina by Ingeborg Bachmann, translated by Michael Bullock, Philip Boehm, and Mark Anderson

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Tells the story of lives painfully intertwined: the unnamed narrator, haunted by nightmarish memories of her father, lives with the androgynous Malina, an initially remote and dispassionate man who ultimately becomes an ominous influence. Plunging toward its riveting finale, Malina brutally lays bare the struggle for love and the limits of discourse between women and men.


The Second Sex4. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Constance Borde, and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier

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Simone de Beauvoir’s essential masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a revolutionary exploration of inequality and otherness. Unabridged in English for the first time, this long-awaited edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as when it was first published, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.


The Wall5. The Wall by Marlen Haushofer, translated by Shaun Whiteside

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First published to acclaim in Germany, The Wall chronicles the life of the last surviving human on earth, an ordinary middle-aged woman who awakens one morning to find that everyone else has vanished. Assuming her isolation to be the result of a military experiment gone awry, she begins the terrifying work of survival and self-renewal. This novel is at once a simple and moving tale and a disturbing meditation on humanity.


The House of the Spirits6. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin

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In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies.

Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.


The Lover7. The Lover by Marguerite Duras, translated by Barbara Bray

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Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras’s childhood, this is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.


The Bird8. The Bird by Oh Jung-hee, translated by Jenny Wang Medina

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After the death of their mother, U-mi and her little brother, U-il, are shuttled between relatives until their father retrieves them. He puts the children in the care of a young stepmother, fresh from a brothel, who looks after them during the week while he works at a remote building site.

But the stepmother is soon driven away by the father’s violent possessiveness. Depressed, the father no longer returns for his weekend visits, and the children are left to fend for themselves.
U-mi attempts to care for U-il, with help from neighbours, but her despair leads her to mimic her father’s behaviour, abusing the one person closest to her …

A beautifully written, deeply affecting story of a shattered childhood.


Sultana's Dream: And Selections from The Secluded Ones9. Sultana’s Dream: And Selections from The Secluded Ones by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, translated by Roushan Jahan

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Sultana’s Dream, first published in 1905 in a Madras English newspaper, is a witty feminist utopia—a tale of reverse purdah that posits a world in which men are confined indoors and women have taken over the public sphere, ending a war nonviolently and restoring health and beauty to the world.

“The Secluded Ones” is a selection of short sketches, first published in Bengali newspapers, illuminating the cruel and comic realities of life in purdah.


10. Rather than choose another specific book, I’d like to collectively make #10 the sequels to some of these books in addition to the many other books by some of these writers. Some, like Isabel Allende and Marguerite Duras, are rather prolific and I’d like to check out more of their books as well.


Don’t forget to go back to the Broke and the Bookish and see what hidden gems there are in other genres!

9 thoughts on “TTT: Classics by Women in Translation

Add yours

  1. I’m not a big reader of classics but some of these sound really good. Especially like the sound of ‘The Wall’ and ‘The Bird’ already have ‘The Second Sex’ and ‘The House of Spirits’ on my wishlist

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was for me too, along with the Feminine Mystique. They gave me a whole new respect for what the prior generations accomplished for us.I wish there could be am updated version for the state of things now and dispels some of those old world thoughts on lesbianism. Its a project for another day though.

      Like

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