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Les Miserables (Modern Library Classics)

Customer Reviews:

Another wretched "translation"...

By rater25 - July 19, 2009

When a publisher announces the first unabridged translation of a world classic in over a hundred years, one has to get excited. But then you see it is by the same Julie Rose who recently mangled Dumas' LE CHEVALIER DE MAISON-ROUGE. Ms. Rose makes so many obvious mistakes in LES MISERABLES that one really doubts her fluency in French. But more seriously (!), it is her approach to the craft of translation that is really the problem. Ms. Rose is of the hip and groovy school. Nineteenth century peasants should of course sound like Paris Hilton. This makes the book less "stuffy" and more palatable to the "general reader". For example Hugo's Tholomyès is "un viveur de trente ans, mal conservé"; that is, a bon vivant of thirty, in bad shape. Rose's is "a wasted high roller of thirty". The MTV phrase "wasted" would be bad enough, but then she has to throw in another anachronistic expression "high roller". This means a serious gambler, not the same thing at all... read more

Translations matter -- and this succeeds beautifully

By Birdman - August 19, 2008

Many years ago, while commuting from Scotch Plains to Manhattan and back, I made use of my commute time to read some very big books. Some, like Larry McMurty's LONESOME DOVE, were magisterial in story, setting and character. Some were Dumas' THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (a killer of a tale). And then there was LES MISERABLES.

I was 26 years old and had never read such a sprawling narrative that commanded my attention like a murder mystery. Jean Valjean was Everyman, and so Hugo's heart touched mine. I read his prose like someone starving for inspiration and story, and read both. As I recall, I read the Penguin edition, circa 1984. It was stirring, clear, compelling.The dialogue doetailed beautifully between the French idiom and American English.

I never saw the musical of the same name, but respect those who did.

Then Julie Rose's version was published, and after reading snippets of some pivotal chapters, I had to purchase a copy, and I'm thrilled I did... read more

Worth reading but...

By annica - March 14, 2009

I have to say that this is one of the most captivating and masterful books I have ever read. Victor Hugo has a very unique writing style and I feel that this is something that the translator should try to reproduce as closely as possible. While the book is certainly not abridged, it is edited in other ways that don't make sense. The translator adds her own voice to the translation, especially by inserting contractions and modern prose. I understand that one of the purposes for creating a new translation was to make the old-fashioned prose easier to read and understand. There are certainly many horrible editions out there that are both hard and painful to read. However, the book sometimes comes off as casual and out of place, since it is so grounded in historial detail.

The main problem I have with this edition is that it doesn't exactly supply the right emotional depth that was in the original. I first read the Signet Classics edition, which is very literally translated at... read more

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