Best English translation of the Decameron?
November 21, 2017 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Please what is the best English translation of Boccaccio's Decameron? I can't find any quotes of chunks of the McWilliams or Nicholls translations online and I want to buy a fun but full translation.

Please what is the best English translation of Boccaccio's Decameron? I can't find any quotes of chunks of the McWilliams or Nicholls translations online and I want to buy a fun but full translation.
There seem to be several free ones, of which Payne is unreadable, J M Rigg barely less so, and Florio readable but boring (i say after short tries). I'm used to older literary English eg Chaucer and I can read Italian, but I'd like to get the most out of it and enjoy reading it. I used the kindle's sample function and got Hainsworth's abbridged Penguin highlights and the new Rebhorn translations. In fact i found Hainsworth mostly easier reading than Rebhorn; i prefer ladies 'cooped up' to 'pent up' in their rooms, the physicality of the chicken coop; i prefered Rebhorn's 'mull over' their thoughts, for its sound-similarity to 'mill', the physicality; and this physicality is very like the middle ages' poetry and how we imagine their world, where everything had to be done by hard physical labour, it didn't come in a packet. I got the feeling Rebhorn was trying to follow closely huge long sentences from the original and stilted language, because the Payne translation has these faults too. But if i'm going to read it, i don't want to do it twice, i want to do it once and get the most out of it and enjoy it to the maximum. I found Hainsworth's shortened sentences helped enjoy it rather than persevere. Online people mention McWilliam and Nicholls, but i can't find any chunks of their prose to find out what they're like. I usually don't mind long sentences but three kindle pages isn't worth it in stilted language (and i've persevered through 'the book of memories' by that hungarian and loved all celine's novels). Normally i read the full thing, but i'm open to the merits of an enjoyable abridgement after my experience so far. In the unlikely event that anyone wants to add any opinions on the various english translations of Rabelais' gargantua and pantagruel, or that chinese monkey/journey to the west book, feel free! Thanks a lot in advance.
posted by maiamaia to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Amazon customers speak highly of the Rebhorn translation.

There's also a comment on another edition devoted to a discussing the best translations

Amazon does sell the Musa translation, but unfortunately, the customer reviews for it are combined with the reviews of several other translations, so it's hard to figure out what's going on. If you want to try, though, you can read through all the comments that include the word "translation" for several different translations.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 8:19 AM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


This one, by Anthony C. Yu, for Journey to the West.
posted by ohkay at 2:03 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


The thing with Musa is, he and Bandanella were hardcore, that is, they maintained full length Latinate periodic sentences of the original where other translators have broken them up into more modern bite sized piece. Meaty stuff.

Alternatively, you might consider Guido Waldman (Oxford World Classics) for a smoother and still entertaining read.
posted by BWA at 7:15 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


"readable, albeit British, English" Rebhorn's critique of McWilliam's translation in the interview haha
posted by maiamaia at 1:25 PM on November 29, 2017


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