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Thread: A good English translation of Steppenwolf?

  1. #1
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    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Question A good English translation of Steppenwolf?

    I have just read "Steppenwolf" in a Russian translation and was completely amazed by it. I wanted to give this book to my English-speaking friend but when I went to the bookstore and looked at the translation by Basil Creighton and edited by Joseph Mileck and Horst Frenz. The translator's note said that the translation has been "improved" by simplifying some words and the sentence structure. I picked my favourite portion of the book and read it in English. It conjured up no emotions (perhaps because I read it out of context and wasn't used to the translator's style) and found that in this "simplification" a lot of the meaning was lost.

    Did anyone else find this particular translation similarly inadequate and if so, can someone recommend a better one? Or did I simply judge too quickly and this is a good translation after all?

  2. #2
    Unfourtunatly I have only had the privledge to read hesse in english but would love to see how it is interpretted in another language. After knowing that his work is translated I feel it almost ruins the whole work. For with out reading the original, it is all corrupted. I will have to learn german to be able to fully see the fullness and beauty of hesses work. I would never let someone translate a piece of mine for it ruins it in the same way a movie does. It closes off certain perspectives. for we see the translators view of the novel, not the author's.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    I have heard this argument for years it is kind of like the book was better than the movie. each person gains individual meaning from what they read. whether they like it or not is not dependent on what the original author was trying to say but your own subjective understanding. obviously the grass may be greener if we could read Hesse in german, but more than likely you would have to understand post WW2 german to truly understand, as the absinthe drinking crowd represented in the book no longer exists. perhaps it has been improved i do not know. what i do know is that i enjoyed Hesse's books in english and that was good enough for me.
    Last edited by micromo66; 02-09-2007 at 12:03 AM. Reason: spelling error

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re:A good English translation of Steppenwolf?

    I find it too, this english translation is lacking. I havent read the russian translation but I did so with the romanian translation. As I havent practiced romanian for quite a long time i got stuck on some words here and there but, just like you, I was amazed by it. The english translation is very very dry compared to the other. Now, I've got to say that I haven't read the german translation.

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