Top positive review
About Various Translations of "Meditations"
5 June 2019
"What am I doing with my soul?"
This collection of sublime thoughts compiled as a book (originally titled as "Eis Heauton", meaning: "To Himself"; original language was Greek) has never gone out of print since circa AD 161. The writer, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, was a Roman emperor and the most renowned stoic philosopher of antiquity. My review though is not about the book itself but about the various available translations of the book.
There are three noted translations which are most readily available in market:
1. A. S. L. Farquharson's Everyman's Library hardcover edition.
2. Martin Hammond's Penguin Classics edition.
3. Gregory Hays' Modern Library edition.
The first one is the most revered edition published in 1944. Though the physical appearance of this edition is the most eye-catching with an elegantly produced hardcover binding and handsome printing, the translation seems dated and old-fashioned. If you want to exhibit your book collection in front of people, you may buy this edition. Though for reading pleasure and better understanding of the philosophy, I'll not recommend it.
The second edition by Penguin (2006) is better than the Farquharson's as far as readability is concerned, but avoid this one too. This translation is more inclined to the exactness of the original text than the readability or understandability of the writing. As it seems, this is the bestselling edition of "Meditations" as far as the Amazon's Indian website is concerned. Thanks to the Penguin Classics tag attached to it, perhaps. No matter what, this is NOT the best edition in comparison.
The last edition which is by Hays' (2002), in my opinion (and as per the general consensus as well), is the best edition available. This is the most comprehensible translation of "Meditations" for the modern readers. The language is fluid and contemporary. If you want to study the thoughts of Aurelius more profoundly then get this Gregory Hays edition, paperback published by Modern Library (snapshots attached).