is it just me, or are the “english” titles of these books way, way off the mark….

Posted by Ghess in Madison, Wisconsin , 2 February 2009

By Editor

31 thoughts on “Book titles”
  1. for the portuguese version, they are translation from french, and we got the original titles (I think…). The correct english translation for the first one would be “Those men that do not loved women”, right?

    Posted by barda in são paulo ,

  2. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that the books have been given such unoriginal titles in English. Starting every title with “The girl …” seems quite bland compared to the diversity of the original Swedish titles. The German titles look even more boring.

    1) Män som hatar kvinnor

    A literal translation to English would be “Men who hate women”. Not that they dislike women, not that they don’t love women. It’s hate. (Actually I think that the title sets the tone for the whole series quite well. It’s a lot about men who hate women…)

    2) Flickan som lekte med elden

    Yep, that title is actually translated correctly into English. The girl who played with fire. I guess that’s what gave them the idea for the English titles.

    3) Luftslottet som sprängdes

    This is where it gets complicated. A literal translation would be “The aircastle that was blown up”. The Swedish title is based on the expression “luftslott” which literally means “aircastle”. It doesn’t refer to a castle in the air (or in the sky) but rather to a castle built out of air (or built on air). The meaning is that the castle is a big and complex structure based on nothing, so a “luftslott” is just a big bunch of complicated nothingness. And it gets blown up, so the title does reflect the content of the book very well. The expression is quite well known and it has a definite negative ring to it.

    I don’t know if there is a suitable expression in English or German that has more or less the same connotation as “luftslott”. Any ideas?

    Posted by Micael (an exiled Swede) in the Swedish speaking part of Finland , 16 februari 2009

  3. In Spanish we have both: castillos en el aire (luftslottet) and castillo de naipes (cards), both mean something unsubstantial, one gives the idea of lacking of grounding, the other of gowing down easilly, anyway,I think castillos en el aire is more suitable, just an opinion. And srpängdes, it does mean explosive” or “solid”?. A swedish dictionary gave me “solid”, which looks apropiate as an oximoron. I agree, Spanish translation is awfull, worst than the english one.

    Saludos y gracias

    Posted by Miguel in Buenos Aires, argentina ,

  4. I am really suprised that in Slovak we have all 3 titles translated punctually identical with the Swedish. I think English title of 1st book is borring and 3rd only continues in line… of mystake!

    Posted by Doky in Zilina, Slovakia ,

  5. Italian titles are:

    1) Uomini che odiano le donne (literally the same of the original one)

    2) La ragazza che giocava col fuoco (idem)

    3) La regina dei castelli di carta (literally, it’s “The Queen of paper castles”. “Castelli di carta” means to us aircastle, with the same meaning of “luftslott” and “Luftschloss”, so it’s “the queen of aircastles”. It doesn’t make much sense: aircastles gives the idea of something fake and fragile, but what is the “queen” for? Lisbeth is what all aircastles are based on…)

    Posted by Maria in Pz, Italy ,

  6. Micael,

    Interestingly, I came up with the same idea that the guy from Portugal did…it seems both English and Portuguese use the same idiom, which is “house of cards.” To express what you have described for Luftslottet som sprängdes I would render the English as: The house of cards exploded.

    Posted by Danthrax in Oxnard, CA, USA ,

  7. I think it’s a pity that the title for the 3rd book is so different from the original one, when book 1 and 2 follow the Swedish title. They could have used something with “Aircastle” in it, like maybe “Het luchtkasteel dat in rook opging” (The aircastle that went up in smoke) instead of “Gerechtheid”. The one more like a normal title, while the ones for book 1 and 2 are quite unusual.

    Also “Gerechtigheid” (Justice) was already used for 2 other thrillers, one by Ian Rankin and one by Faye Kellerman, so it’s not a unique title.

    Posted by Momo in Leiden ,

  8. While I don’t like the use of the “The Girl . . .” construct for all 3 titles in English; I think the title of the first book in Swedish is misguided. I am not sure Larsson knew his main character at that point. He buried the lead! A huge error for a journalist.

    The second book’s title is OK because it actually refers to Lisbeth’s actions as a girl. In the first she is not a girl and I expect the same is true of the third. Maybe an English title truer to the Swedish meaning would be ‘Blow the house down’ – a reference to the straw and stick houses in childhood nursery rhymes.

    Posted by MM in Michigan ,

  9. I like the use of ‘the girl’ in the titles. ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo’ tells me something interesting about Lisbeth. ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ is a reference to one of Lisbeth’s ‘solutions’. ‘The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest’ refers to her efforts to upset the sattus que and bring the guilty to justice. I fine the titles relevant.

    Posted by Rob Heidel in Simi Valley, CA. USA ,

  10. I think the title ‘Men Who Hate Women’, while it is inflammatory and speaks to a certain minority, is not consistant with the story. Neither Michale, Henrik, Dragan or Palmgren hate women. Certainly Bublanski does not either. Does anyone know if MWHW is the title Steig actually chose for the first book?

    Posted by Rob Heidel in Simi Valley, CA. USA ,

  11. Yes Rob, it was the title he chose. And he had to fight for it against the publisher. He insisted.

    Posted by John in Sweden ,

  12. Hey John,

    Thanks for the reply. I’ll rethink my opinion.

    What was Steig’s rational for the title?

    Posted by Rob Heidel in Simi Valley ,

  13. most americans would never pick up a book called ‘men who hate women’ because

    A. sounds like a self help book

    B. most women dont like to be hated -my mom would never let me have seen the movie with her let alone start reading the books if it was titled that-

    C. alot of americans are annoyed with hearing about this type of stuff

    D. would of caused a huge mess with feminist

    E. there was actually another self help book called that coming out at the time -moms an pychologist, sorry i know i didnt spell that right-

    F. it says nothing about what the rest of the series is about let alone the main characters, and gives away a huge piece of the plot. really if i knew that was the title before i got into this series i would of guessed right away who the killer was -spoiler back when i thought there was a killer-

    so the girl with the dragon tattoo is a much better title for the first book when u really think about it. also the girl who played with fire is a much less compliacted verison of the orignal. and girl who kicked the hornets nest means poticly lisbeth

    stired up alot of trouble, but i havent read the 3 book yet -not out in the us plus i just got into this series yesterday and am on the second book-

    Posted by juicy couture girl ,

  14. Reason for the title of the 1st book? Gottfried & Martin, pherhaps. And a bit of Bjurman, to round it up. Finally, take in mind that Larsson was a leftist, communist, anty-nazist, anty-racist, and… women rights activist. He was also a founder of “Expo” magazine, which was aimed to promote “PC” behaviors in the Sweedish society. So his first book was a kind of his manifesto.

    Posted by Rukasu in Warsaw ,

  15. 2 Rukasu: not only Gottfried, Martin, Bjurman, but also Wernstrom.

    there are Russian titles translation:

    1.The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

    2.The Girl Who Played With Fire

    3.The Girl Who Was Blowing Up Aircastles

    Posted by salanderwasp in Russia ,

  16. in English it should have been…

    1. Forgotten

    2. The Girl who played with fire

    3. I will let you know when ive finished

    the last book.

    Posted by zala in Goteborg ,

  17. I read the book in English so I do not know how accurate it is when it comes to Polish translation of the content.

    Titles however are prety same as original with small difference.

    1- Men Who Hates Women

    2- Girl Who Played with Fire

    3- Sand Castle which collapsed – i think its quite good translation as Sand Castle is somewhat Polish equivalent to Aircastle

    Posted by Cyfra in Krakow ,

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