An Haughty Sniff Versus a Spoonful of Sugar, or Who Is Mary Poppins?

  • Dorota MalinaEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


“Who is Mary Poppins? In our mind’s eye we see Julie Andrews in a pastel Edwardian dress, […], as saccharine as the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down. […]. The original Mary Poppins was not cheery at all. She was tart and sharp, plain and vain. That was her charm; that—and her mystery”—writes Valerie Lawson (Mary Poppins, she wrote: The life of PL Travers. Simon and Schuster‚ p. 143‚ 2013). Mary Poppins, an iconic nanny created by Travers, is the main protagonist of a seven volume series. The books quickly became children’s classics and the source of various translations and adaptations. In my article I intend to explore the notion of the literary character’s identity across some of them. I want to focus specifically on comparing the picture of Mary Poppins that emerges from the original text with that in the Polish translation by Irena Tuwim and the famous 1964 Disney musical. By analyzing the changes between the versions I propose to demonstrate that each translation constitutes an act of rereading the original for the purposes of a new audience. Looking at the changes that have been made, one can learn a lot not only about the new identity of the literary protagonist but also about the identity of the target culture which emerges in confrontation with “the other.”


Adaptation Children’s literature Identity Intersemiotic translation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Translation and Intercultural Communication, Philological DepartmentJagiellonian UniversityKrakówPoland

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