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Help with getting the best translation


New Member
Does anyone know how to go about getting the best translation of a foreign work? There are a few books that I want to get but am afraid of getting because I'm always paranoid that there might be a better translation out there. Especially for classic works (e.g. Don Quixote) that have several versions.

So I guess I'm asking if there is a website that I can go to for information about which translations are reputed to be the best, etc.

Any suggestions would be really appreciated... :)
I don't know any websites, but I'm sure there are lots around. Just search for the books you're looking for. That should direct you to some translations.
dele said:
I go with the oldest one usually.

In my opinion, translations seem to date quickly. I don't automatically go for the newest one, but a victorian translation can bore you to tears.

Also, consider the publisher. A well respected publisher will put for the extra effort to hire a decent translator.
yeah, that's what I've been doing: looking through websites to see if any particular translator's been recommended. But its such a tedious process and most of the time I come out with nada. I just thought there'd be an easier way of doing it. I like the publisher idea though, never thought of it that way before... thanks guys!

Oh well, looks like I'll have to start bugging this forum for suggestions before buying translated works from now on... :D
Stewart said:
And William Weaver for Italian literature - thinking Eco and Calvino.
Yeah, read The Name of the Rose and am reading Island of the Day before. Both of which are translated by Weaver. Haven't seen any other translations around though. Is he the only translator available?

The book that prompted me to ask this question was Don Quixote. Read a translation (can't remember which) sometime back and utterly hated it. And I've been told not to give up on the book because it truely is worth it and that the best translation of this work is still John Ormsby's. This made me realise how important it is to get a good translation.

Thanks for the suggestions guys. Does anyone know if there's a good English translation of Cyrano De Bergerac?
Scratchy said:
Is he the only translator available?

The translation of Eco's Kant and the Platypus is by some guy called Alistair McEwan - I'll wait until I've read that to see what he's like. Similarly, Eco's On Literature is by some other bloke. I don't know if Mouse or Rat?, a book on the art of translation, is by Eco himself or translated from Eco's original Italian - when writing technical books he prefers to write in another language so that his ideas, even the complex ones, are rendered simple to understand via his inability to cope too much with the language.