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I’ve just read “1222” by Anne Holt. I read very little crime fiction, but I had seen good reviews for this, so I gave it a go. I don’t think it was a masterpiece, but it was an entertaining read. The reason for mentioning it is because it was an english translation from the original Norwegian. Whenever I read a book in translation, I always wonder how much I am missing.

To explain my thinking: when an author writes in their native language, they have a whole range of “tools” such as idiom, alliteration, the rhythm of a sentence, puns and grammatical tweaks to help convey their thoughts. All these are at risk when translated into another language, to the extent that with novels in particular, a good translator will not make a literal translation, but will attempt to convey the feel of the book in their own words. This makes me wonder how many of these nuances from the original are lost in translation, despite the translators best efforts, and therefore make the book less interesting.

I have even seen reviews of more classical works that analyse the translation, comparing it to earlier versions.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could read any book in the original language to fully appreciate it?

Dream on, John.

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