06 October 2008
One of the things that attracted me to librarianship was the possibility of learning something new every day. How could I be surrounded by so much knowledge without picking some of it up? And I have one of those minds that's great for remembering the trivial (although I find that I forget more and more important stuff as my head becomes more crowded.) Anyways, today I learned that Felix Salten was not American! Yes, like the art history teacher who tried to convince me that Christopher Columbus was, in fact, English--she was working on the fact that his name was "Christopher Columbus." As opposed to "Cristoforo Colombo"?--I assumed that the author of Bambi was an American on no sturdier platform other than that I myself am American.
Well, that's embarrassing to admit, but there you have it.
I made my discovery while weeding this morning, and I noticed on the title page of our rather tatty copy of Bambi, that the book had been translated. A quick check on Wikipedia informed me that Felix Salten was in fact Austrian. Well I suppose they have woods in Austria, too. But in reading the subtitle: A Life in the Woods, I just assumed that those woods were in New Hampshire. Disney certainly made them look like American woods. And shame on me. Because anyone who has read Bambi (and I have, many years ago) knows that the book is nothing like the film. In fact, my copy here has an introduction by John Galsworthy, of Forsyte Saga fame. Which then begs the question--is Bambi even a children's book? Galsworthy's intro is gushing in his praise. He calls Salten a poet. He calls Bambi "a little masterpiece". Yet no where does he theorize about how much children will enjoy this book. In fact, he ends his introduction to the book with "I particularly recommend it to sportsmen."
Wow. When Disney gets their hands on a thing, it really takes on a life of its own.