Wolfgang Krege

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Wolfgang Krege (born 1 February 1939, Berlin; died 13 April 2005, Stuttgart) was a German author and translator.

Life and work[edit]

Wolfgang Krege was born and raised in Berlin. In the early 1960s he began studying philosophy at the Free University of Berlin. Afterwards he worked as editor of lexica, as copywriter and editor for publishing houses. In the 1970s he started translating texts, initially focusing on non-fiction.

Tolkien literature[edit]

He gained a greater readership by his translation of J. R. R. Tolkien's book The Silmarillion. In the 1990s he retranslated The Hobbit; compared to the earlier translation by Walter Scherf, who had left out or shortened most of the poems and songs embedded into the plot, and which moreover contained illustrations by children's books illustrator Klaus Ensikat, Krege's version rather appeals to a more grown-up readership.[citation needed] Another difference is made by a lack of adherence to the original: Krege has a tendency to write a funnier and fancier book than the original Hobbit.[according to whom?] Thereby various sentences are interpreted in a way which cannot any more be regarded as translation but is clearly new script. Additionally, Krege's version features a number of modern words like "Hurricane" which can easily be seen atypical for the medievally and European inspired Middle-earth (although Tolkien's original as well does contain words like "football" or "express train"). Krege's translation of place names though is closer to the original script. Where "Rivendell" remained untranslated by Scherf, Krege used Bruchtal and standardised the place names according to the German translation of The Lord of the Rings by Margaret Carroux and E.-M. von Freymann (Klett-Cotta 1969/1970). He also eradicated earlier misinterpretations of English "Elf" to German "Fee" (fairy), where Tolkien explicitly wished to distinguish his elves from the diminutive airy-winged fairies.[1]

Krege's retranslation of The Lord of the Rings (Ger.: Der Herr der Ringe) is highly disputed among fans.[2] The new German interpretation of 2002 tries stronger than the old Carroux version to reflect the different style of speech employed by the various characters in the book. In the old German translation the speech is quite uniform throughout the plot – moderately old-fashioned and according to some critics[who?] even artificially folksy. The English original though features various layers of speech, from a 16th-century Bible style to the rustic and urban, sometimes gross, common British English of the 1940s, i.e. the time of its being written. Krege tries to imitate this in German, but used the German language of the 1990s as a reference rather than the 1940s. For example, he translated Samwise Gamgee's often-employed phrase "Master Frodo" to "Chef" (German (and French): boss; not to be confused with English "master cook") - a term which many fans of classic fantasy literature in German-speaking countries think of as totally improper. In Wolfgang Krege's translation, the appendices to The Lord of the Rings are for the first time completely translated to German, save for one part.

Other translations[edit]

Krege wrote also an (equally disputed) retranslation of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange as well as other works by Burgess. In addition, Krege was the standard translator to German for works by Amélie Nothomb.

Selected works[edit]

As an author[edit]

  • Begriffe der Gruppendynamik (Terms of Group Dynamics), Konzepte der Humanwissenschaften, Stuttgart 1977 (ISBN 3-12-904920-7)
  • Handbuch der Weisen von Mittelerde (Handbook of Middle-earth Scholars), Stuttgart 2001 (ISBN 3-608-93311-5)
  • Elbisches Wörterbuch Quenya und Sindarin. Nach J. R. R. Tolkiens Schriften (Elvish dictionary Quenya and Sindarin. According to J. R. R. Tolkien's Writings), Stuttgart 2003 (ISBN 3-608-93185-6)

As a translator[edit]


  1. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (1964). “On Fairy-Stories”. Tree and Leaf. George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Reprinted in Tolkien, J.R.R. (1966). The Tolkien Reader. Ballantine Books: New York
  2. ^ Werner, Thorsten (4 August 2006). "Gewinnspiel: Die Gefährten — Das Hörbuch (Competition: The Fellowship [of the Ring] — the Audio Book)" (in German). German Tolkien Society. For the audio book the intensively discussed translation by Wolfgang Krege was used (Für das Hörbuch wurde die intensiv diskutierte Übersetzung von Wolfgang Krege verwendet.) 

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