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1984 - George Orwell,  S. Manferlotti (This review refers to the Italian translation)

Operating on the principle that l'ignoranza non è forza, I wanted to read some books in Italian before taking a trip to Italy in a few months. My Italian is rusty, to put it mildly. 1984 may seem like a strange choice of Italian reading material unless maybe it's for a Celebrity Death Match?, but I found an ebook version of it and figured since I’ve read it a gazillion times, it wouldn’t matter too much if I occasionally got lost. The syntax is straightforward, which helps (believe me, I am not ready for Umberto Eco). My husband thought I was a little crazy to read this, but wait until we get to Italy and he wants to order a glass of Victory Gin. Who’s going to have the last laugh then?

I found the translation feature on the Kindle to be very useful for reading in a second language. You can load a translation dictionary so that when you touch a word in the book you're reading, you get its translation. If a translation isn’t available, it defaults to a standard dictionary in the book’s language. Sometimes that’s even preferable, since it doesn’t take your mind out of the language you're working in. I found that on average I probably looked up about as many words per page as I did for [b:Ulysses|338798|Ulysses|James Joyce|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1346161221s/338798.jpg|2368224], which is, ostensibly, in English.

As far as the quality of the translation goes, I don’t think my Italian is good enough to be too critical. I thought Manferlotti did a good job with Newspeak, especially with the fictional appendix at the end. It’s a tricky thing to convey the sense of Newspeak in a language other than English, but it worked well.

One quibble - I thought the use of the word topo for “rat” was strange, especially given its importance to the story. That word makes me think of Mickey Mouse (“Topolino”), like in these comic books similar to those I remember at my grandparents' house years ago:


The word ratto seems a lot closer to 1984’s not-so-benign rodent, which I picture more like this charming guy: