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best translations of classics into English

(4 Posts)
antimatter Fri 12-Jul-13 17:36:04

I looked at the Kindle and a list of available translations of War and Peace is longer than I expected
there are at least 6 different translations - by Vintage, Penguin, Cambridge amongst others
if you were to choose one - how would you go about finding the best one?

RabbitsarenotHares Thu 18-Jul-13 16:02:02

Personally, by reading a few pages of each and seeing if I liked the style and whether I could read it or not.

I read a wonderful translation of The Three Musketeers which I loved - really easy to read and it didn't come across as being translated. The same translator had done one or two of the sequels and I enjoyed them as well, but then I found one that someone else had translated and gave up. The style just didn't do anything for me at all.

Likewise although I love the language of Dryden's Aeneid I can't 'read' it easily. There's a modern blank verse translation which was readable, and more enjoyable than the modern prose version. But if you'd have asked me before which one I'd want to read I'd have said the prose for certain, because I thought it would have been the more accessible.

So the answer is try them and see!

antimatter Thu 18-Jul-13 18:58:06

good idea to try few and see which one reads best smile

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Thu 18-Jul-13 19:26:06

I own the translation, but I've read both an awful translation of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, and I own both in brilliant translation.

Thanks for the advice on Three Musketeers, can't believe I haven't read that one! blush

Time to learn French...

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