Favourite Translations: Les Mis Edition

Hi! Sorry for the long gap between posts, it’s been a busy few days and will be for the next week or so! Because of this, I’ve decided to just do a casual, easy, chatty post about one of my favourite books ever: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo! I included the photo above because I just love the way it’s designed.

I own six English translations of Les Mis. Not that I’m satisfied, I would still love to collect more editions of the novel.

The first edition I received was the Penguin Classics version, aka the translation by Norman Denny. I received this copy as a bribe from my sister so that she could borrow my favourite skirt for a party and I read it over and over, not even realising there were other translations out there.

Then I believe I bought the Hapgood translation, which is my favourite translation for style of language and characterisation, and I’d say my favourite translation overall.

The other translations I own are:

  •  Lee Fahnestock and Norman McAfee (1987)
  • Julie Rose (2007)
  • Christine Donougher (2013)
  • Charles E. Wilbour (1862)

Out of the above, I’d say Julie Rose’s translation is the easiest to read –  but at a cost of losing a lot of the beautiful language of Hapgood and a lot of updated modern language in its place. Donougher does much the same, although it is to a lesser extent. Wilbour’s translation is, in my opinion, rather heavy going, probably because it was appealing to a long-ago generation when published, and Fahnestock and McAfee’s is a nice, engaging version.

– Rhan


One thought on “Favourite Translations: Les Mis Edition

  1. I own two translations of Les Misérables: one abridged and one unabridged. My favorite between the two has to be the unabridged, which I think is the Canterbury Classics version, and I see that one in your collection. That would be the deep red one that you love.

    The unabridged is just better because the plot is fuller. It does not feel like anything has been left off. I ended up finishing the unabridged in less then one summer. It helped having a strong knowledge of the musical despite some characterization differences. The hardest thing about the book would have to be the boring history lessons, but still gained something out of them when I realized that they helped me understand the time period better.

    Liked by 1 person

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