Ljubljana – Acclaimed Slovenian illustrator Alenka Sottler has contributed drawings for a new English translation of Bambi, a classic written in 1923 by Austrian Jewish writer Felix Salten. The Original Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest brings a new perspective on what is believed to be a much darker story than many saw in Walt Disney’s film.
The first English translation, by Whittaker Chambers from 1928, left out the Jewish aspect of the story, and Disney made a popular animated film based on it.
Sottler has told the STA the original was meant as an allegorical tale about the persecution of Jews which started in Vienna before Austria’s annexation to the Third Reich.
She was invited to illustrate the book by its translator Jack Zipes, who wanted the images to bring out the new content.
Sottler thus made eleven black-and-white drawings, which took her almost three years to complete.
The book has been recently published by the US’s Princeton, and since Sottler, 63, was unknown to the publisher, she had to provide some proof of her past work.
Stottler has received a number of awards, including in 2017 the Gold Medal given out by the US Society of Illustrators, for her illustrations of Eurydice.
When going through documents and studies about Bambi, expert on fairy tales Zipes realised the story had not been interpreted in the right manner in North America.
Zipes says in the introduction to his translation that the animals in the forest, where they have to constantly watch out for hunters, are an allegory of Jews.