Humour across cultures? The case of Saturnin, a (not very) Czech comic novel and its mirrorings in translation and rewriting
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|Zdeněk Jirotka’s 1942 Czech comic novel Saturnin is an item of the cultural repertoire worth examining for reception reasons: although its author has been known for hardly anything else, the novel, reminding one of the “Jeeves” novels by P.G. Wodehouse, was elected by popular vote “The Book of My Heart” in the Czech Republic in 2009. Over 300 thousand people submitted their vote, to elect Saturnin, rather than any other piece of Czech or world-literature writing. Since the political turnover of 1989, the novel has been staged 12 times (6 times after 2009) by Czech theatres, including one ballet performance. There is also a 1994 film version of the novel and in 2017, a former vice-president of one of the leading parties, Miroslav Macek, who has also been known as an author of a translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, published a sequel to the novel (Saturnin Back on the Scene), having been addressed by a publisher. The paper examines the humour in the original novel and its transformations in the sequel and the 2003 English translation by Mark Corner, against the backdrop of the humour by P. G. Wodehouse.