In Translation

When reading novels in translation, I like to find two different translations and compare them. I may read whole chapters of each translation, or I may refer to the the other translation for what I consider beautiful or odd phrasing. I’m  reading Les Miserables   by Victor Hugo primarily in the print version, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee. It is a fairly modern translation and, I fear, sometimes simplifies the situations resulting in a lack of depth I find in the other translation.

Away from home I’m reading Les Miserables in the Kindle version, translated by Isabel F. Hapgood. Words matter. Some translators will try to catch the emotion and ambiance of a novel, some will be more literal. I hope you get to read two translations of the same novel some day.

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