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Akorbi Lists the Top Five Most Translated Fiction Books in History

Library shelf filled with literature

Very few books reach levels of popularity that require multilingual translation, so it’s a pretty big accomplishment for an author to have their book translated for an international audience. While some of the most translated texts are religious texts, there are a number of fiction books that have begun to top the charts as well. In today’s blog, Akorbi has broken down the top five most translated fiction books in history.

5. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha

Original Language: Spanish

Written by Miguel Cervantes, this book was published in two parts all the way back in the 1600s. The first part was published in 1605, and part two was published in 1615. The book was first translated into English in 1612, before part two was even released. Over the years, this novel has been translated into 145 languages. While the book was published hundreds of years ago, it is a classic read for anyone interested in literature or Spanish culture.

4. Andersen’s Fairy Tales

Original Language: Danish

If you’re familiar with classic fairy tales, they probably came from Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen wrote many of today’s widely popular fairy tales such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, Princess and the Pea, and more. While many of his fairy tales are famous today, most of his stories didn’t sell well during his career due to the difficulty of translating them. While translation difficulty set him back at first, this collection of fairy tales has been translated into about 160 languages since its release in 1835.

3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Original Language: English

Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) originally came up with the story of Alice to entertain a friend’s children. They enjoyed the story so much they wanted him to write it down for them so they could read it again and again. Recognizing that his story was popular amongst children, he began working on the manuscript for the book. Since it was published in 1865, it has been translated into over 174 languages.

2. Le Avventure di Pinocchio

Original Language: Italian

While Disney has made the story of Pinocchio popular, the original author behind the successful story is Carlo Collodi. The popular story was first published in a magazine in 1881 and made into a weekly series. It was canceled after about four months, but it was resumed by popular demand in 1882. The story was officially published into a single book in 1883 and has been translated into over 260 languages.

1. Le Petit Prince

Original Language: French

The 1943 story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery follows a pilot who crashes in the desert, and meets a young prince. The prince tells the pilot stories of his visits to several planets, and lessons he learned on each planet. The Little Prince makes observations about life and human nature, and addresses themes like love, loss, and loneliness.


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