Many books are translated into several common languages, such as English, French, Spanish and Italian. But some literary works are so successful that they are translated into hundreds of foreign languages and dialects. So which book tops the list of the most translated books in the world?
The Bible, the most translated book in the world
If we include religious works in our list of top translated books, then the Bible is the most translated book in the world. Originally written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic), the complete Bible (Old and New Testaments) is now available in 704 languages and dialects, according to the latest figures available in 2021, reaching 6.1 billion speakers worldwide.
The Little Prince: the most translated book in the world after the Bible
The Little Prince, by the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is the second most translated book in the world after the Bible. This philosophical tale, published in 1943, has been told in over 475 languages. The 300th translation of the book was in Hassaniya, a dialect of the Moroccan Sahara. This is quite symbolic because it was in Morocco, and more precisely in Cape Judy, in this region of the desert where Hassaniya is spoken, that Saint-Exupéry found the inspiration to produce this literary masterpiece.
The Little Prince has been translated into all of the world’s most common languages, as well as into many rare languages (Quechua; regional dialects of France, Germany and Italy; Aramaic; Berber; ancient Egyptian, etc.).
The next most translated books in the world
The following is a list of the next most translated books in the world:
The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
Originally written in Italian, the story of the famous puppet who becomes a little boy was published in 1883, and has since been translated into 260 languages.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Published in 1865 in English, this beloved fictional book has been translated into 174 languages around the world, allowing millions of readers to marvel at the story of Alice and her misadventures in a fantasy world.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
The story of Captain Nemo is said to have been told in more than 170 languages, starting with the original French version. The famous book, published in 1870, has been an international success ever since and is undoubtedly one of the most important works of classic literature.
Andersen’s Fairy Tales, by Hans Christian Andersen
Andersen's tales have been translated from Danish into over 150 languages. These works include, to name but a few, The Ugly Duckling; The Little Mermaid; The Princess and the Pea; The Snow Queen...
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
Originally called El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha, this Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes was first published in 1605. Since then, the book has been translated into over 145 languages. This makes it the oldest of the most translated books after the Bible!
The Adventures of Tintin, by Hergé
Like its hero reporter and his faithful dog, the book of Tintin's adventures has also travelled all over the world. Published between 1929 and 1976 in French, the comic book series has been translated into 115 languages to this day.
Asterix the Gaul, by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
You're probably wondering how many languages this other French comic book has been translated into? Asterix's adventures have been translated into 115 languages around the world since the book’s first publication in 1960.
Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
In the space of two decades, the internationally successful Harry Potter saga has already been translated from English into 80 different languages.
Other novels with the highest number of translations in the world include: Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren (translated from Swedish into 70 languages); The Kon-Tiki Expedition, by Thor Heyerdahl (translated from Norwegian into more than 70 languages); The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan (translated from English into about 100 languages); and The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho (translated from Portuguese into about 60 languages).
FAQs about the most translated books in the world
The Bible is the most printed book in the world. In 2020, there were 5 billion copies worldwide, making it the best-selling and most translated book in the world.
After the Bible, the Koran, another religious book, is the most widely read book in the world, with 3 billion copies sold.
This is followed by the Little Red Book, the former Chinese President Mao Tse-Tung’s book, which has sold over 820 million copies.
Following this book is Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, both of which have sold over 500 million copies.
Add new comment