Annie's Reviews > Heidi

Heidi by Johanna Spyri
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Nov 26, 08

Recommended to Annie by: Danica
Recommended for: Christian children
Read in November, 2008, read count: 1

Wow. There are a few things going on here:

a) This translation is amusingly terrible. A few gems: "Now the children sat up in bed and said each her evening prayer" (284); "'Where are the precipices?' asked the child, but did not stir from her seat, for with every breeze the sweet perfume was wafted to her nostrils" (32); "His father, who followed the same business, and was also called goat-Peter, had been killed while felling wood the year before. His mother, whose name was Brigette, was always spoken of as goat-Peterin, or goat-Peter's mother, from the connection; and for everybody far and near his blind grandmother had the same name." (11) (I had to type that last part and read it out loud to understand that people ("far and near") were calling the grandmother goat-Peterin, as well. Because her son had been a goat-herder.) I heard there's a new translation out that is awesome. I think that this one is sweet, but distracting. Very very distracting.

I am considering "translating" the translation into what I think the author might've been trying to say. And then I want to compare that to the "good" translation.

b) This book is really triggering for me, and I knew it was going to be. One of my murky memories about my childhood is that we watched the movie during my church when I was very very little, and I identified with Heidi very very much. It was really creepy reading the book with this in mind, particularly because I was being abused by a grandfather-figure at the time.

This is not likely to be a problem for others (I hope!), and it is actually contributing to my (slightly) positive review-- it is helping me to explore my painful past! I am really learning a lot about how I've identified on an unconscious level with:

c) HEIDI THE MIRACLE-WORKER!!!!

I miss grad school so much. I want to be writing a term paper on this book. Here are my notes:

Heidi = Jesus?
Heidi is a type, not a character. She doesn't develop, and we mostly "hear" other characters telling us how wonderful she is (or in the case of the villain, how awful she is). We aren't "allowed" to form our own opinions of what Heidi is doing because Spyri makes sure we know!!!!! by having all and sundry (everybody far and near!) telling us constantly what a joy she is and how she makes life worth living. One character even says that she will die when Heidi stops coming to visit her.
Heidi (as opposed to the character) is really just a combination of a memoir and a parable: here is how beautiful it is on the Alm (to be fair, it sounds AWESOME!) and if you trust in God, better things will happen than you can even imagine.

The real reason that this book got an okay vote from me is that I totally agree with the premise of the book, in its clumsy way. I truly do believe that everything, especially the things that seem most unfair, is to the good of the Goddess and that the earth and air and elements heal us.

I think I'm going to try the new translation.
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