Mine-Haha English Translation Now Available!

Mine-Haha
I’m pleased to announce that my translation of Frank Wedekind’s classic novella, Mine-Haha, or the Corporal Education of Young Girls is now available on Amazon as either a Kindle book or a paperback. Included in it is my description of the translation process and why I made the choices I did for various words, along with a short biography of Frank Wedekind that I wrote (not a copy-and-paste from Wikipedia, which is all too common).

Ever since I started writing about East German films, I’ve tried to read German texts from as many different sources as I can. This means everything from classics of German literature to propaganda sheets prepared after World War II from both sides of the Wall. While researching sex education in Germany, I came across Frank Wedekind—a man well ahead of his time. It was easy enough to find an English translation of his classic Spring Awakens, but I was interested in one of his lesser known works: Mine-Haha, oder Über die körperliche Erziehung der jungen Mädchen.

Search as I may, I could not find an English translation of this book other than a $125 edition from the 1920s. At this point, I decided to do my own translation. It took me a while, but it was fun and good practice. After I finished, I set it down for a while and continued to study German. After a couple years, I took a second look at my translation to see how it held up, now that I knew more about the German languages. There were a few mistakes, but, on the whole, I was pleased to find that I did a good job of it. I checked again, only to find that a couple people had posted new translations of the book. In a way, I’m glad these weren’t available when I first looked for it. I doubt I would have bothered with my translation. But I did, and here it is.

Part of my fascination centered on the subtitle to the book: “oder Über die körperliche Erziehung der jungen Mädchen,” which can be translated in a number of different ways, thanks to the word körperliche. Körperliche means “relating to the body,” and can be translated as either “corporal,” “physical,” or “bodily.” Older translations of the book tend to use “corporal,” while new editions choose either “physical” or “bodily.” Wikipedia chose to use “bodily” I chose to go with “corporal” because it sounds creepier, and the story of the girl brought to a walled academy in a box and taught how to walk and pose is inherently creepy in spite of the rather nonchalant manner these things are described by the narrator.

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon for only $3.99, or free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. The paperback version is $9.98. I should warn you, it’s a very short book (novella really).

If you are interested in purchasing it, click the “Buy this book” button below (gosh, that’s a disturbingly alliterative sentence).

Buy the Book

4 thoughts on “Mine-Haha English Translation Now Available!”

  1. Hi, thanks for your site. What East German film is based on Wedekind’s Mine-Haha? Or other German films based on his works other than Die Büchse der Pandora, the Pabst 1929 film? I’m interested in your translation, have you translated any other Wedekind?

    1. Gosh, no. I translated Mine-Haha as part of an effort to get better at German, then went back to it a few years later and cleaned things up before publishing (having learned more about idioms at that point). My main reason for the initial translation was the fact that I couldn’t find a copy of the book in English. I see that there are a few available now. I may, at some point in the future, tackle another of Wedekind’s works, but I have no plans at this time. Thanks.

  2. Congratulations on your translation! I was interested to stumble across it, having published a translation myself in 2010. May I ask – what are these other versions you refer to here and in your Introduction? A 1920s edition, and something recent other than yours and mine? One reason I pitched it to Hesperus Press around 2008 was that I couldn’t find an existing translation, so I’m intrigued to know what I missed. Best wishes, PW.

    1. Thanks, Philip! I did my initial translation in 2010, so it must have been right before your translation was published. Honestly, I doubt I would have bothered if I had seen your book available. Your version is excellent. As to the other versions, I went back to Amazon to call them up again, only to find they are not listed. Most of them were listing the subtitle as “The physical education of young girls” which is how Google translates it. A couple years ago, there were dozens—and I mean dozens—of Kindle versions of classic books that were obviously translated automatically. In many cases, they were books that were originally in English and now somebody was selling versions of the books that had been badly translated from another language! You know there’s something wrong when you open Moby Dick, and the first line reads: “My name is Ishmael.” 🤦‍♂️ Amazon seems to have cracked down on the practice, so maybe that’s where those versions went.

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