Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
for Foreign Language First Fridays. This is a review of the Italian translation:
"The Vicar of Nibbleswicke" is a short story by Roald Dahl, written to benefit the Dyslexia Institute in London, and published posthumously.
The first things I wondered when I purchased Il vicario, cari voi were, how did they even do a translation when the story is based on wordplay, and also, would it go completely over my head? But I shouldn't have worried, it was all just fine. Some words and names were changed to make the wordplay work. The switched up words were italicized, which made them very easy to spot. That was immensely helpful, because I was reading slowly and pausing to look up words I didn't know. I didn't need to be second-guessing myself along the way, worried I'd miss a joke. And just in case, there's a wordplay guide in the back that explains some of the more subtle humor.
I would say the reading level for this one is around "early intermediate" Italian. I was looking up far fewer words per page than I did when reading Susanna Tamaro's Il grande albero. Also, it is downright exciting when you find yourself picking up on humor in a non-native language; this clever and funny short story is a great boost to a language learner's ego!
I loved the vicar's personality and admired his perseverance. From learning to read and write to being in charge of his very own parish, the vicar kept pressing forward with determination. Such a great message for both children and adults, wrapped up in the quirky (and sometimes a bit crass) wit of Roald Dahl.