If you are tackling Tolstoy, Proust or Kafka, find a translation that reads well for you. I failed twice to read War and Peace before I realized what was happening. At a large used book store I got to browse several translations before finding one that was easiest to read. What a difference!
This advice is especially true when it comes to reading The Bible. There are dozens of translations, most stilted, one stupendous. I prefer the first edition of The Jerusalem Bible: Reader’s Edition, which came out in 1966. It was translated magnificently from the French and has a power completely lost in later, revised editions.
Unfortunately, most literature classes require a student to use the teacher’s favorite translation, which may be authoritative but unreadable. If, however, you are not on a deadline and reading on your own, getting the right translation can make all the difference.
There may be a problem with this. Tolstoy so impressed me with War and Peace that I dove right into Anna Karenina. What a disappointment. I’ll save you time and four hundred pages. Woman gets run over by a train. You’re welcome.
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