Books You Probably Didn’t Realize Were Translated

Over at, there’s a list of classic books which were originally written in another language, and some of them might surprise you. These books were translated so skillfully by a translator that you might never realize the original text is another language. (Which, coincidentally, is what you want visitors to feel when they visit your language sites.)

I’ve read a number of these translations during high school and college Literature classes but the topic of translation itself never came up. Crime & PunishmentThe Odyssey,Madame Bovary, etc. were the focus of many papers and class discussions but the issue of translation didn’t enter the conversation – which I find very strange for classes where sensitivity to language is everything. The only text I remember discussing translation for was Beowulf, and that’s only because our teacher wanted us to hear the difference between Old English and our modernized version.

I think it’s a shame to ignore the talent of the translators who brought these classic books to our native tongue. We’ve celebrated Dr. Seuss’ translations into other languages but I don’t think non-English to English translations get enough credit. So, let’s celebrate them a little today – pick up your favorite translated classic and start reading.