Jane
Jane asked:

Which translation would you recommend? I'm looking at Donougher, Rose, and Denny.

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Melody I've read the Norman Denny translation and to me he truly grasped the poetry and drama of Victor Hugo's writing. Hugo wan't just a novelist, he was a poet and a playwright and Denny communicates that in his translation very well. As I was reading it I couldn't stop thinking, "Why do they teach Shakespeare when every single line of Hugo is this deep, poetic, profound truth?". Some have stated that the language he uses is less true to the French version, but I believe he captured the spirituality, and this other-worldly quality of the novel the best of all the translations.
Darren Donougher's is the best translation I've read. It avoids the jarring modernism of Rose's translation and, as far as I can tell, remains true to the original. The only problem I had with the Donougher was the decision to go with an english title. Thankfully, that has now been rectified, since the original title is being restored for the Penguin Deluxe paperback edition in February. I'm guessing that Penguin realized it was a mistake, and that the unfamiliar anglicized title hurt sales.
Deepak Pitaliya I read the english translation by Isabel F. Hapgood and liked it. Very easy to read.
Laura I like the "jarring modernism" of Rose's translation. It makes it seem modern and real.
Em I read Denny and I loved it! Brilliant book. I was so sad to finish it. I havn't liked the other translations from flicking through them as much. Denny has more prose and beautiful language
Lucy Day Werts Among those three, I'd go with Donougher. Rose is more aggressively modernized than I'd prefer, and I get bad vibes from Denny. He seemed to think there was something wrong with Hugo's novel. Also note that he streamlined the text in some places and moved two "digressions" to the back as appendices.

Other translations to consider are Wilbour, Hapgood, and Fahnestock/MacAfee (an update of Wilbour). Actually, I made a whole page to help people choose a translation. Visit We Love Translations for information on available editions.

» Les Miserables translations

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Valentine I would also definitely recommend Donougher; I’m currently half way through and it’s lovely. Denny has quite an ‘old fashioned’ feel - he translated the book in the 80s (I think) but it has an earnest-Victorian-novel sort of quality. If I’m remembering correctly, he also makes some alterations to the original French text - mostly inconsequential, but he modifies the structure slightly and removes/adds text in places. Rose’s translation is the complete opposite and the prose is extremely modern. It’s likely the easiest translation to read as it’s written more like a contemporary novel, but the language can be quite jarring. Donougher sits nicely in the middle in my opinion - accessible and conversational style but very true to the original text. Captures the poetic, thoughtful nature of Hugo’s writing without feeling hard work to read.
Cooper I'm currently reading the Denny translation, and it is amazing. It's super lyrical and dramatic, I love every bit of it!
Emily I read the Donougher translation and the Rose translation and preferred the Donougher. The Rose translation lost some of the magnificent prose that Hugo has by trying to make it accessible and modern. Donougher still felt true to the original while also keeping the text accessible.
Trudy The Wretched, Doneagher (sp?), Hughes. Modern English, very readable, well-footnoted
Elizabeth Robertson My old copy doesn't mention who did the translation, however, it was published by The Copp Co., Ltd. in England. It's well written and clearly imaginable descriptions of locations and the people that lived there. I don't think I want to see the play/movie.
Lesley Currently reading the Donougher. In addition to being a terrific translation, it has extensive annotation n the many historical and literary references in the novel.
Pamela Adams I read Charles E. Wilbour's translation but I am not an expert at that aspect of the book. I just enjoyed reading it.
Chiek Er Donougher's the best. A brilliant piece of translation. I have faith it was unabridged piece of painstaking perfection. Wonderful annotations and footnotes.

I read Isabel Hapsgoo many years ago and it was not as good.

I understand Denny's version is abridged because the slashed away parts of the novel.
Theann Faucher I liked the Julie Rose translation so far with plans to read them all.
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