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Funny. Lem, Eco are the two I always wonder about re: translations, because of their wit and wordplay. And of course all poets

I would add Murakami to that list. In my experience, Japanese doesn't translate all that well to English - although some Murakami's works, like "South of the Border", feels very close to Fitzgerald. I'm now a little surprised to realize that "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" was actually written before both it, and "Norwegian Wood".

At least for "Norwegian Wood", I found the translation to Norwegian to "feel" better than (the excerpts I've read) of the English translation. It's hard for me to say if that is because Norwegian is my first language, and I learned Japanese from living in Japan, or because there are some parallels between terse Nordic prose and poetry and Japanese. I could certainly see the Nordic sagas working "better" in Japanese than in English.

Re:saga-like literature, I first read Lord of the Rings in English, then the recent Norwegian translation "Ringdrotten". Ringdrotten feels almost more like a work on its own than "just" a translation, since it uses a wide range of Norwegian dialect features to convey the various species and social classes of LotR (making the language differences much more pronounced than in the English). Rather tough read though, due to archaic word choices.

Well, speaking of Italians, Dante is another great example. Reading a translation of the comedy that attempts to preserve the meter and/or rhyme is completely different from reading a prose translation.

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