Discussion Forums - Classic Literature

Topic: How do you choose a translation?

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Subject: How do you choose a translation?
Date Posted: 1/16/2015 5:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
Posts: 2,139
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*cross posted from CMT*

I've been wanting to read some "epic classics" but I get stuck trying to choose a translation. I'm a horrible decision maker. Help! How do you choose the right translation for you? Or do you think it's probably not something that holds much weight, and any would do? If you've read any of these below, is there a specific translation that you would recommend (or not recommend)? I'm not one to re-read books, and so I think that's why I feel like I have to pick the right one to read. I also prefer to keep as close to the original versions as possible, and when I read about the translations, it feels overwhelming with how different some of them are to one another. 

On my list to tackle soon:

Iliad : Homer

Odyssey : Homer

War and Peace : Leo Tolstoy

Last Edited on: 1/16/15 11:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/16/2015 5:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 4,173
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If you are reading in English you won't need a translation for Ulysses.

I would say look for the most recent translation.

Date Posted: 1/16/2015 7:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Go to Goodreads or even Amazon and read the reviews. You can get a feel for who is the best translation that way. 

Date Posted: 1/16/2015 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2010
Posts: 2,139
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Ha! Quite right, Charles. I'll edit that. I associate Ulysses with Odyssey and must have just spaced that. 

Oh, I didn't think about Goodreads - thanks, I'll do that! I have checked out an Amazon reviewer's extensive post about War and Peace translations that was very helpful. I'm hoping to chance across something like that for the others.