|Original Title||German Title||Translator||1st German ed.||Current German ed.||1st English ed.|
|The Bluest Eye||Sehr Blaue Augen||Susanna Rademacher||1979||1993||1970|
|Song of Solomon||Solomons Lied||Angela Praesent||1979||1993||1977|
|Tar Baby||Teerbaby||Uli Aumüller+Uta Goridis||1983||1993||1981|
|Jazz||Jazz (Coron ed.)||Helga Pfetsch||1994||1994||1992|
|Playing in the dark||Im Dunkeln spielen||Helga Pfetsch + Barbara von Bechtolsheim||1995||1995||1992|
Remarks on German editions:
After writing several publishers and wholesalers about our project, we have obtained the following information:
-A literary agent and an American editor praised Toni Morrison so much at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1976 that Herr Ledig-Rowohlt of the Rowohlt Publishers agreed to a contract for German editions of her works, even before reading them.
- The first editions met with a weak critical reception ("schwaches kritisches Echo") and a disastrous economic one ("desaströses ökonomisches").
- The Nobel Prize in 1993 increased the circle of Morrison readers in Germany considerably (which is not always automatically the case.)
- The Literary Quartet ("Das Literarische Quartett"), the most significant book review program on German television, has a definite influence on book sales. However, only Marcel Reich-Ranicki´s judgment counts--what the other three reviewers say has no effect on the viewers, Rowohlt tells us. This opinion is not shared however by all experts, some of whom feel that the general opinion of the four critics, especially when they praise a book, is what influences sales. [Reich-Ranicki panned Jazz in December 1993--did this dampen the increase in sales brought on by the Nobel Prize publicity? What about the more sympathetic reading given by Frau Sigrid Löffler on that same December "Literary Quartet" broadcast?]
- According to Rowohlt, Oprah Winfrey´s Book Club, which featured Song of Solomon in December 1996 (broadcast in Germany in February 1997), had no effect at all on the number of German readers ("nicht den allergeringsten Einfluß auf die Anzahl der Leser"). [Do any of our internet readers have a different opinion here?!]
-Rowohlt considers Toni Morrison´s books important contributions to contemporary literature ("wichtige Beiträge zur Gegenwartsliteratur") rather than African-American phenomena ("nicht in erster Linie ein ´afro-amerikanisches Phänomen´"). [Would Toni Morrison approve of this distinction?]
- Helga Pfetsch, the translator of Beloved, Jazz and Playing in the Dark, requested that an expert ("eine sachkundige afro-amerikanische Germanistin/Amerikanistin") be consulted for the translations of Morrison´s novels. Earlier translations are gradually being revised.
- The number of English books sold in Germany has, according to Rowolt, probably not increased in the past several years and plays very little role economically.
- 7,000 bound copies, 60,000 paperback ones of Solomons Lied have been sold; the same number of paperback editions of Jazz, but about 40,000 bound copies. The sale of Morrison´s books now "subsidizes" the publication of not yet prominent authors whose books might sell only about 1,000 copies.
- The Pulitzer Prize and other international awards have no influence on the German market, Rowohlt claims ("ohne jeden Einfluß"). [Any counter claims?]
- The Society of German Book Trade ("Börsenvereins des Deutschen Buchhandels") tells us that, even though the number of German readers who read English easily has increased, the original English editions of novels do not "compete" on the German market with the German translations of those novels. The readers of the English editions are usually university teachers, journalists, "trendsetters" who arouse interest in the German translation subsequently published ("sind wichtige Multiplikatoren für die später erscheinende deutsche Übersetzung").