Discrepancies in translations

I have noticed that varying translations of novels originally in foreign languages differ greatly.  In fact, I was discouraged from reading the translations (in English, of course) until I could behold the original texts, or, at least, behold the texts in their original languages.  I will present two examples.  First, it was Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.  There seems to be two prominent translations of the novel, one with the main character being called Mr. Axel, the other one calling him Harry.  And that is not all.  The differences between the two translations are so great that it is impossible to believe them to be translations of the same book.  In frustration and despair, I gave up reading this excellent work of fiction until I could see a French edition.  I also read somewhere that Jules Verne’s novels were blatantly mistranslated into English and that it is hard to find an accurate, literal translation of any of his works.  The second example is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.  There were paragraphs missing in one translation that were in another, and when I compared both translations to a French edition, I discovered which translation was the lesser of two evils, so to speak.  For it may be this way with all translations; you can never be sure until you’ve read the book in its original tongue.  And even then you still be sure of the text’s originality and veracity.  Oh, the difficulties with literature!  🙂 

As a final note for today’s entry, I am publishing my 56th article on the Examiner today, and I am pleased to say that this article is my penultimate article in my series on The Chronicles of Narnia.  Just one more after today, and then I will review Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. 😉

Natalie Gorna

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