On the following pages I am going to present a detailed analysis of the various German translations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, the first part of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Throughout the years the book has been translated twice in written form, first by Margaret Carroux in 1969 and again in 2000 by Wolfgang Krege. Although both translations have their very own imperfections, as I am going to show, the fact is that fans of the older version never really accepted the more modern one. Comparisons of the two translations, which may be found both in magazines and the internet usually turn out to be rather biased, as most of their writers have, naturally, read Carroux first and are used to her expressions.
In 1978 Ralph Bakshi presented an animated movie of ‘The Lord of the Rings’, covering the first two volumes of Tolkien’s story. As I will show, the German version of this movie is a confusing mixture of both very well solved dialogue situations, copying Carroux’ text as often as not, and rather bad ones.
In December 2001 a new version of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, directed and produced by Peter Jackson from New Zealand, hit the movies. The German translation was exceedingly well made by Andreas Fröhlich, whom I had the luck speak to via telephone.
Actually it was this movie, which gave me the idea to analyse the translations in more detail. Luckily I had read neither Carroux nor Krege before I read Tolkien’s original text, which means that I was not biased and that I was able to present both the positive aspects and the imperfections of all four German versions.
Please note that in his books, Tolkien usually writes ‘Men’ and ‘Elves’ with a capital first letter, but ‘dwarves’, ‘hobbits’ and ‘orcs’ with small letters. In his appendices he changes this and writes all of the peoples with capital letters. I did not make use of this mix up and wrote ‘Hobbits’ and ‘Orcs’ everywhere other than when quoting from Tolkien.
In order to work with the movie dialogues I created transcripts from both movies from their respective DVD versions. At the end of the chief text you will find the movie transcripts as well as a list of names and places and their different translations. Please refer to these appendices when in doubt about a certain piece of dialogue or a translated name or place.
Also you will find an enclosed map of Middle-earth as it was translated by Krege, which I suggest you use for geographic references.
Closing this foreword I would like to thank Tobias Köhle and Dirk Hildebrandt for lending me their books and Patrick Chudzian for his technical support. I especially thank Andreas Fröhlich for giving me considerable insight into his translating and dubbing work. I also want thank my sister Anna Aslanidou for proofreading this, as I have to admit, a task, which I rather underestimated.
Nikolaos Aslanidis, Jan. 2004