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Question about Barnes and Noble Classics

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Roughly thirty percent of my personal library contains 30-year-old paperback classics from my college days. Many of these volumes are looking very tired.One of my kids decided to give Frankenstein another try but was frustrated with sticking pages back into the decrepit book. I ran over to Barnes and Noble and picked a couple of replacement volumes and a few new reads. Hey, they had a "buy two, get one free" deal and I had my teacher's discount card.


The next day, the stubborn child was still reading my elderly copy of Frankenstein and would have nothing to do with the B&N replacement. The other two kids backed him up. Their thinking was that my old college books were more "authentic" and that the B&N versions were somehow "dumbed down" or inferior versions. I can't find any information that substantiates their claims, but now I am a bit paranoid. I suppose it is my fault for lecturing them on obtaining unabridged works and good translations. For the record, I only purchased books that were by authors for whom English was their native language.


From my viewpoint, the little demons are thwarting my efforts to rebuild my library in a thrifty fashion. Besides, I find that as I grow older I prefer my books to be about the size of the Oxford versions for Shakespeare's works-not too small, not too heavy, but just right. What say the hive?

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The only B&N classic I happen to have is a prose retelling of The Odyssey (Butler). While he reordered the first half into more of a chronological order, I don't recall that anything was left out. I think it was actually a pretty decently poetic-prose rendition! But, one book does not qualify me to comment on the entire B&N library. ;)


Don't know if this is what your DC are thinking, but as a book junkie, I have to say that old books just make me feel good! I feel like I am more connected with the history of the book, and all the generations of people who have read it when I'm reading an old, falling apart book. It FEELS (I know, real scientific/scholarly!) more like a classic that has survived the years *because* it is a Great Book. :tongue_smilie:



Anyways, below is a comparison of the first two paragraphs of the B&N retelling and Fagles' translation, in case it is of interest. Warmest regards, Lori D.




Butler, The Odyssey

"Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover, he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could have his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Zeus, from whatsoever source you may know them.


So now all who escaped death in battle or by shipwreck had got safely home except Odysseus, and he, though he were longing to return to his wife and country, was detained by the goddess Caylpso, who had got him into a large cave and wanted to marry him. But as years went by, there came a time when the gods settled that he should go back to Ithaca; even then, however, when he was among his own people, his troubles were not yet over. Nevertheless, all the gods had now begun to pity him except Poseidon, who still persecuted him without ceasing and would not let him go home."



Fagles, The Odyssey

"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns

driven time and again off course, once he had plundered

the hallowed heights of Troy.

Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,

many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,

fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.

But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove --

the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,

the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun

and the Sungod wiped from sight the day of their return.

Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,

start from where you will -- sing for our time too.


By now,

all the survivors, all who avoided headlong death

were safe at home, escaped the wars and waves.

But one man alone...

his heart set on his wife and his return -- Calypso,

the bewitching nymph, the lustrous goddess, held him back,

deep in her arching caverns, craving him for a husband.

But then, when the wheeling seasons brought the year around,

that year spun out by the gods when he should reach his home,

Ithaca -- though not even there would he be free of trials,

even among his loved ones -- then every god took pity,

all except Poseidon. He raged on, seething against

the great Odysseus until he reached his native land."

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The B&N classics that are in translation are all older versions, those already out of copyright. Some of these are pretty much unreadable (for example Dante's Inferno--I think it is Longfellow's translation). I recently bought the B&N version of Germinal by Zola and it was the first and very stodgy translation--dialogue so directly translated that people were saying things like "I am called" instead of "my name is" or "I'm"...these things can really make a difference in a complex book. I thought it wouldn't matter to me with Germinal but it really made the book difficult to enjoy.


I hadn't heard that the originally-in-English books were abridged. They should certainly be marking them as such. It seems to be getting to be more and more common, though, to make it very hard to tell. I had a VERY hard time getting a copy of Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle in an unabridged format, for example--the current editions don't make it easy to tell.

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Don't know if this is what your DC are thinking, but as a book junkie, I have to say that old books just make me feel good! I feel like I am more connected with the history of the book, and all the generations of people who have read it when I'm reading an old, falling apart book. It FEELS (I know, real scientific/scholarly!) more like a classic that has survived the years *because* it is a Great Book. :tongue_smilie:



I used to feel like that.


Then my son snapped my very old copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in half while reading it.

I've also done a LOT of sneezing from some of my older books while reading aloud.


Now, I'm pretty happy reading off the iPad :) Lot less dusty!


Most of the B&N books can be downloaded through Project Gutenberg for free. They also put a number of the B&N versions for free download every so often and cycle through what's available. However, I saw a couple of typos in Alice in Wonderland. :glare:

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I have several on my nook. I like the notes system. They often have two sets. The letter notes are for things that might be helpful for someone who reads less than I do, and I skip them. But the numbered endnotes are often more substantive.


I often buy the b&n classics version for my nook even when I own the book. They aren't expensive, they're searchable, the font can be sized, and I can carry them around all of the time. And when my son is ready to read them, he can read one copy while I have the other handy for reference.


Most are not abridged. Wikipedia will tell you which ones are.


They generally are older translations, and I don't generally use them for translated books. I find the Penguin paperbacks generally have better translators.


I buy the nook version even when the free versions are available. The free versions are often full of typos and they drive me nuts. I figure I'm paying a couple of bucks for proofreading, endnotes, and convenience, and it's worth it to me.

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