Leo Tolstoy's novel 'Anna Karenina' famously starts 'All happy families are alike.' But what readers may want to know is how alike are different translations of such foreign classics?
I've written about my experiences of two different translations of Candide in the past. But, even as a dedicated high school teacher, my interest was in the distinct and noticable lack of eloquence of one when compared to the other.
My preference for teaching was always with the more eloquent, though I have absolutely no knowledge of French or the "accuracy" of either translation.
The eloquence, especially in the delivery of the humor really did make the satire funnier and more accessible to my students.
This article focuses upon the minutae of scholarly study of varous translations of the same work. Obviously a significant discussion among scholars.
Not all of my students were scholars, and I'd assume that the majority were not destined to become scholars, but it might be interesting to share this in a non-annoying fashion.
With Candide, I discovered that the more eloquent translation I'd used for many years had become no longer available. The district purchasing department simply purchased a different version when the number of my older copies had dwindled to fewer than I needed to meet the enrollment for my satire course.
So, I'd spend a short time sharing the two different translations of Chapter 1, with the class and let the students decide which translation they preferred since I didn't have enough to give everyone the same translation. The more eloquent was by far the favorite.
For what it's worth...
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