Best/most successful translations in literature, post 2 of 3



Do you read translated books?

Anna Karenina was the first translation I read.  This was back when struggling through a story was akin to earning a badge of honor.

I loved the movie, but couldn’t get through the book for a long time, and I’m not sure if the translation or the original writing style made the difference. The bookstore clerk asked if I wanted the abridged or non-abridged version. He explained the first was edited for book clubs, an easier read. The non-condensed was just like Tolstoy’s, only not in Russian. Maybe I should’ve gotten the condensed version. Still, the book is a classic. It’s great, just had to be patient.

I also read Madame Bovary and wish I could remember more outside the general premise. But I read it a long time ago. Most recently I read the ultra-popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (found some errors, but the story kept my interest), and am really struggling with Wendy Guerra’s Everyone Leaves, translated from Spanish.

After a quick search, I found the most successful translations in literature.

1.   Paulo Coelho: “The Alchemist”

Written in Portuguese and translated in more than 50 languages.

2.   Gabriel García Márquez: “One Hundred Years of Solitude”

Written in Spanish and translated in dozens of languages.

3.   Stieg Larsson: The “Millennium Series”

Originally written in Swedish, the books are everywhere.

4.   Anne Frank: “Diary of a Young Girl”

Written in Dutch, although not by Anne herself, the book was translated in more than 50 languages. I would put this one at the very top for the subject matter alone.

What is the best translated book you ever read, and how did you like it?


2 responses to “Best/most successful translations in literature, post 2 of 3

  1. I read your 1, 2 and 4 many years ago, and the first Stieg Larsson (I wasn’t compelled to read the others in the series). And others I’m sure, but it’s funny, I never really think about the translation issue, maybe because, unlike you, I only speak/read one language–English. But your posts on this subject are really interesting!

I welcome your thoughts.

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