Mexican Jewish author Ilan Stavans recently published a Spanglish version of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is a novel by English author Lewis Carroll that was published in 1865.
Unless you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole sometime in the last century and a half, the story follows a young girl who finds herself in a fantastical world of anthropomorphic creatures after she stumbles into a hole while chasing an unpunctual, white rabbit.
In the Spanglish version, which is aptly titled Alicia’s Adventuras en Wonderlandia, Stavans mixes Spanish and English to create a bilingual adventure.
“The majority of readers access classics in another language other than the original,” Stavans tells NBC News. “I want Latin culture, like other advanced cultures, to have foreign classics translated into a familiar voice.”
This is the third classic book that Stavans has translated into Spanglish. The first was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s French novella The Little Prince, which he retitled as El Little Príncipe in 2017. The following year, Stavans translated Miguel de Cervantes’ early 17th century novel El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha to Don Quixote of La Mancha.
“Alicia is an extraordinarily compelling metaphor for Latin Americans entering an entirely different world in the United States and the pressure they face through assimilation,” Stavans says. “Alicia enters another world and then has to figure out how to live in that world, which is exactly what immigrants do.”
Stavans says translating classic stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has taught him how Latin American literature and magical realism operate together in other works of fiction.
“I started to find a way to explain to myself how magical realism works in the stories of Gabriel García Márquez,” he said. “For me, Macondo in One Hundred of Years of Solitude is a land of maravillas, or wonderland, a magical coastal town on the Caribbean side of Colombia where you can decode the history and dreams of Latin America.”