Read in Translation, Want to Read the Original

As those of you who have been following my blog for a while probably already know, my first language is Portuguese. The first fiction book that I read in its entirety in English was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, because I didn’t want to wait for the translation. It was only after 2010, however, that I started reading the original versions of English books more recurrently. Nowadays, I don’t read the translations of books originally written in English anymore. Not only is it a great way to practise my English reading skills, but ordering books from the UK is also cheaper than to buy them in Portugal.

There are three books by English authors that I read the translation into Portuguese, but that I’m eager to read the original version of.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I read the Portuguese translation of Pride and Prejudice, titled Orgulho e Preconceito, more or less 13 years ago. The heroine of the novel is Elizabeth Bennet. Her mother is eager to marry all of her five daughters. Elizabeth is playful, intelligent and witty, but she also makes quick judgements about people. One of them is Mr Darcy. The misunderstandings between the two of them are also a consequence of his prideful nature and of the importance he gives to social status. The believable characters are accompanied by great moments of satire.


1984 by George Orwell

Set during a time of perpetual war, government surveillance and public manipulation, 1984 is one of my favourite dystopian novels, although I’ve only read the translation into Portuguese, which has the same title. In this society, there is only one party, which is personified by the Big Brother. The main character, Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth. His job is to rewrite historical events. He has an affair with Julia, who doesn’t support the party.


Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement was the first book that I read by Ian Mc Ewan and the only one by the author that I read the translation into Portuguese, which is titled Expiação. The story begins in 1935, but it spans various decades. Briony, a young girl who wants to be a writer, misinterprets the relationship between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie. Her actions have terrible consequences, and she tries to atone for them. This is a book full of moments of joy, anger and sadness.


Have you read any of these books? Tell me in the comments!


4 thoughts on “Read in Translation, Want to Read the Original

  1. Emma says:

    I’ve read the three of them.

    Like you, English isn’t my native language.

    I tend to read books orginallu written in English in the original but there are limits. If the book is long, I tend to look for the French translation.
    It’s also difficult to read books with specific language (ex: books set on a boat, with the boating language, the ones with a lot of fishing…)

    And last but not least, SF can be difficult because of the creation of new worlds.

    Do you have the same issues when you read in English?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susana_S_F says:

      Nowadays, I always read books written in English in the original, regardless of how long they are or their genre. The more I read them, the easier I find to do so! Maybe because my English vocabulary is getting better.
      The only books that I read in Portuguese now are those originally written in Portuguese of course, Spanish, Italian and (most of the times) French. I may be totally wrong, but I think that the more similar the languages are, the easier they are to translate.


      • Emma says:

        I also think that it’s easier to translate from one Latin language to the other.
        My Italian colleagues make the same mistake in English as French people.

        Liked by 1 person

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