I remember learning in my linguistics course in my undergrad work that you can never truly translate something, not 100 percent, since we’re always having to filter a foreign language through our own native one, which is why we have multiple translations of a single particular work. Luckily most translations get it very close, but reading a translation is still a bit like reading a poem, there’s wiggle-room for interpretation. You can never quite recover the full meaning, the nuances, unless you’re a native speaker, and if you are a native translating it into a language that is secondary to you, you never can fully understand that one, either. I don’t know much about those who grow up fully bilingual, but in my mind there’s always one that is your primary language, right? Thoughts?
Anyhow, it’s fascinating to me, but when I’m trying to find the “best” translation of a novel to read, it’s also a little frustrating.
So, if I were to be able to read any novel in it’s original language, I think it would be Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. And I took French in high school, so I could probably follow a tiny bit of it!
There are probably a dozen different versions of the novel’s cover (and the title is in French either way), so I’ll post a quote instead!
Je ne suis pas au monde pour garder ma vie, mais pour garder les âmes.
“I am not in the world to care for my life, but for souls.”