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Ever read different editions/translations of the same book?

I am starting to pay closer attention to editions/translations in books, particularly when they are Classics.

It really is interesting if you compare the various ones side by side. Last year I bought an old copy of War & Peace at a library sale (I still haven't read it, but wanted to have a copy around for the day I do). The one I picked up is a Garnett translation. I didn't see until later that it did not contain end notes. I find end notes very helpful, especially if I know little about the history/culture of the place the book is set in. So I decided to check out some other versions that did have end notes.

I read that the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation was the best out there (i.e. the most accurate translation from Russian to English), so I went to the book store just to take a look. It is interesting how different the translations are. The PV does have an air of accuracy about it, but it feels a little stiff. I have read the Garnett translation of Anna Karenina and truly enjoyed it, so I likely will read the Garnett version of War & Peace too. The Garnett is a little more relaxed in style and therefore not as intimidating- at least for me. Maybe some day I will also read the PV, but not the first time around.

But just compare the first page, even the first few words, and it is really amazing how they differ! It is hard to believe one is reading the same book at certain points.

Right now I am reading Les Liaisons Dangeruses (Dangerous Liaisons) by Choderlos de Laclos. I am really enjoying the book (it has helped me get out of a two month reading slump). But there are a few things that make me suspicious of the translation, which is by Douglas Parmee. The word 'jolly' (yes, as in jolly good) has been used twice so far, and 'dotty' once. It makes the book feel more English than French. I would very much like to get a feel for true style of Laclos (even French authors in general, since I have only read a few), so I plan to get this book in another translation. I have read the Lievre one is great.

How about you? Do you ever read different editions/translations of the same book?


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