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General Fiction > Translated Fiction

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message 1: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks If possible (that is if I know the language) I always try to read the books in the original. Sometimes, I will pick up a translation of a German novel etc. to see if the translation is good. And, I have cheated with French and read translations of some of the more intense and wordy tomes (like Les Miserables etc.) because it was easier and I was lazy. One thing that I have noticed, though, is that some of the newer translations are often easier and smoother to read than some of the older ones (I know that with German literature, for instance, the older translations into English were often slavishly word-for-word, while the newer ones at least attempt to provide an enjoyable, and poetic reading experience and if that means to change some of the wording, style etc., then so be it). Now, one thing that I have never enjoyed reading in translation is poetry, for me, it just doesn't work, translated poetry will, more often than not, destroy the lyricism of the original.


message 2: by Louis (new)

Louis (lchange) | 10 comments I have to say Emile Zola is incredible.Any of the following are just amazing reads: Germinal, The Ladies Paradise , The Belly of Paris and Nana.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy (blacksheepdances) Fiona wrote: "I've been wanting to explore fiction from foreign countries that were originally not in English.

So far not so successful and the only ones have been Japanese. (Haruki Murakami, Natsuo Kirino an..."


I love translated works, I feel like I'm getting a secret pass to an exclusive club! There's many great titles from all sorts of regions. To me, I really don't notice a translation issue at all. It all flows as one. There's been only one time that a phrase seemed awkward, but without knowing the original language I have no idea if it was intended or if it was the translator.

To explore Norway, try Per Petterson's novels (there are four translated into English). Soothing and quiet, with a heavy focus on the region and emotional subtleties.

You might want to check a translation site like Words without Borders or Open Letter (Three Percent) to get a bunch of titles from all different areas. Archipelago Books.org also has some great titles.


message 4: by Hayes (last edited Sep 10, 2010 11:08PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) For Italian books the only translator around for centuries was William Weaver, who I'm sure is/was a brilliant translator, but I have loathed all of the works that he has translated, with the exception of The Name of the Rose, which was "clunky" at best. (Of course Umberto Eco is difficult, in all senses of the word, even at the best of times, but that's another story!)

Being an Italian speaker, and almost a French speaker, gives me a little leeway. If the original language is "germanic" or similar, I'll read it in English. If it's Latin based, I'll read it in Italian.

So I'm reading Larsson in English, but I read Maigret and Zafon in Italian. I don't know if it's really better, but I feel closer to the original words of the author.

@Amy: will check out those sites. Thanks.


message 5: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I just want to pop in here and say that I am reading a fabulous book, which is translated from Catalan Spanish to English. Stone in a Landslide. Wow, the translator has done an excellent job in that I adore the words! Excellent writer and I assume excellent translator!


message 6: by Christina Stind (last edited Sep 11, 2010 04:06AM) (new)

Christina Stind I hated it when I was younger and wasn't able to read anything but Danish when books said that they were abridged - I always felt cheated. So I'm happy to be able to read in English although of course there's a whole world out there of literature that I can't read in it's original language and which is being abridged when translated into English as well. Murakami for one, is apparently always being abridged when translated.
When reading Russian novels, I go for a specific translating team (Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear). I'm not able to judge their merits myself but I've seen them recommend so many places and I've so far enjoyed their work.
For Danish authors to read: Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen - who actually wrote her books first in English and then in Danish so she did her own translations. Peter Høegh of course - who I think is the most famous current author. Christian Jungersen is one of much talked about authors in Denmark (with his book The Exception: A Novel) and so is Morten Ramsland (with Doghead). (Of course there's also Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard for something completely different...)
But I must say that I don't read that much Danish fiction so I'm hardly the best to recommend any...


message 7: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
Christina, that's interesting about Murakami. I didn't know that.

One of my favourite books is a translation but I have no idea if the translation was done well and most of the book is dialogue. The book is called Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda who is French.


message 8: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Yes Lee, Anna Gavalda is a great writer. The movie of Hunting and Gathering is tremendous too!


message 9: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
I should see if I can find that movie. I remember we discussed this author last year Chrissie.


message 10: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I read the book in French and saw the movie in French, in fact before I read the book! It is SOoooo French! Can't you get it dubbed? Wait till yu see where they live and how the characters look. There are good actors.


message 11: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
I'm dying to see what the apartment looks like. It sounds amazing in the book! I'm so out of it with movies that I'm not sure where I could get this. I don't even rent movies anymore. The library has a lot so I will check.


message 12: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
Yes!!!! My library has the movie in French with optional sub-titles! I just ordered it.


message 13: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Oh fun..... you can rent such movies at the library?! Unbelievable. that is never possible in Belgium or Sweden!!!!! I am impressed!


message 14: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
I'm lucky, Toronto has a very large collection. And the library has 99 branches!


message 15: by Chrissie (last edited Sep 12, 2010 10:53AM) (new)

Chrissie OMG what a library!

I am happier when I see you are on line in the day time, NOT the middle of the night. Then I worry! :0)


message 16: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
That's sweet of you to worry about me Chrissie. We do tend to stay up quite late. I'm usually not in bed before 2 or 3am.


message 17: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I go to bed at 9;30, latest 10......... Is that b/c of you Spanish connections. that is normal there.


message 18: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
Hah! No it's because my daughter is a total night owl. Around here, most kids her age go to bed at 8pm. Actually I'm a bit of a night owl myself so I shouldn't be surprised but sometimes it's even a bit much for me. She's very stubborn, especially when she's tired. I've learned that getting into a power struggle with her in the middle of the night is not worth it.


message 19: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie Lee, Eric was that way. First we struggled, then we compromised..... He was allowed to play quietly on his bed after choosing a toy or two to place there. 8PM doesn't have to be right for everyone! Raising kids isn't easy! Not everything is in a book either. Just plain old common sense works very well.


message 20: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
No kidding. I'm okay with having a child that doesn't fit the mold. She's amazing! At first it was frustrating but now we find quiet activities to do together while we're up late. When she was younger it was more of a challenge for her to entertain herself.


message 21: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie She sounds marvelous. Having kids may be challenging but ALSO they give you so much. It is best to realize what you have when you have it. I know you do!


message 22: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
I know I am getting off topic here on this thread but it's true Chrissie, being a parent has improved me immensely!


message 23: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie :0) but you were wonderful from the start! INSIDE people are pretty consistent. It is just a matter of bringing out the good and shoving back the bad.


message 24: by Lee, Mod Mama (new)

Lee (leekat) | 3959 comments Mod
You have such a way with words~! Here's to shoving back more bad then. :-)


message 25: by Chrissie (new)

Chrissie I have just completed From the Land of the Moon (spoiler free review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...) in just one day, It takes place in Italy, predominantly Sardinia. I enjoyed the proze, about art and love and sex and craziness and truth. Is the true story the most important one?


message 26: by Lianne (last edited Jul 10, 2012 12:43PM) (new)

Lianne (eclecticreading) Great post! I love reading novels that were not originally written in English. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one major example for me; I wished I knew Spanish because I would then read all of his works and not worry about when the next book will be translated! lol.

I had taken Italian for a while so I do own a number of books in both English and Italian (Alessandro Baricco and Italo Calvino namely). I can see how tricky the translation process can be sometimes. But if anything, it does help me a bit in learning the language =)

Oh, but when it comes to the translation of Russian classics to English, I do prefer the translations done by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Russian is tricky but I think they've done a wonderful job in making the translations come out rather fluidly.

Lee wrote: "One of my favourite books is a translation but I have no idea if the translation was done well and most of the book is dialogue. The book is called Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda who is French."

I looooove Anna Gavalda's Hunting and Gathering (loved the movie adaptation too). I wish my French was better than it is because it'd be great to read the original (which I actually own) and see how the translation fared.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm going to read my first Russian this fall, The Master and Margarita. I hope I get a good translation.


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