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.



I Don’t Know

I’ve finished the infamous section of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. It was a bit of a slog, but not bad at all. I definitely understand this period of world history better than ever before. I appreciate that Hugo took the time to show Reader what they needed to know to understand what happened next. Today’s quote is from that section.


Probably In Love

A sweet little quote from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.


I came across this quote near the beginning of Les Miserables’ most infamous chapter. This chapter gets bad marks from some readers for supposedly leaving the story and dwelling far too long on what seems to be an unrelated history lesson. So far, I’m enjoying the history lesson, but I’m withholding my final critique until I see just how long it really is.


It’s a Shame, not a Precedent

I didn’t plan on running posts from two novels simultaneously, but here I am again: one post/two novels, scenes I read within a day or so of each other. I’d put it down to my general reading habits and choosing certain kinds of books, but this is the first time I’ve read Justin Cronin and reading The Passage is at the suggestion of a stranger. I chose Les Miserables by Victor Hugo because it was a very big book – my copy is over 1400 pages – so I wouldn’t have to find something good to read again too soon.

There is a suggested musical accompaniment for today’s post: The Grateful Dead’s Throwing Stones.


A special thanks to Manzanar, a National Historic Site not too far from my home. Places like Manzanar are part of what makes America great, places that face up to the terrible errors we’ve made as a country and work to educate Americans and the world so it will never happen again. If you’re not quite sure what the word internment means, feel free to click the link – it will take you to a thesaurus page.

Sure Friends

I started reading My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe. At location 497 in my Kindle edition I fell in love with

“The vital distinction between concealment and revelation is the essence of her work.”

It’s got me thinking about artists and heroes and how much we see but don’t know, and know but don’t see as we go through our days.


In the novel Les MiserablesVictor Hugo has a way of making the common person a hero in a quiet way that most would not recognize in their daily comings and goings. Monsieur Madeleine is a quiet hero.