Out of curiosity, has anyone here finished the Donougher translation? I still haven't been able to get it....That was November? Dang, my procrastination has reached a new low.
wow this is quite spooky as I came here to make a post to ask the same thing!
I have the Donougher translation and I think it is the best edition of Les Misérables in English for the following reasons,
It is complete and unabridged, unlike Denny, the early editions of Wraxall and all the official editions of Hapgood (she left out the Cambronne section).
It doesn't feel like the language has been dumbed down, unlike Rose.
It has excellent notes and footnotes, unlike Wilbour and F/M. For example the ABC/Abaisse pun is clearly explained in a footnote at the bottom of the page.
The text flows well. I would say the closest translation to Donougher in terms of style is probably Hapgood. It is certainly as readable as say Denny.
The introduction, translation notes and timeline are fascinating. I think the publishers made the right in choosing Robert Tombs, a history Professor, to write the introduction rather than say a English Lit Professor. This means we have a greater emphasis on the historical aspects of the novel. Donougher notes on the translation are quite interesting, especially how she dealt with Hugo's discussion of slang. Julie Rose's introduction to her own translation on the other hand just made me feel like she didn't understand the novel at all. The fact she called it a detective story said it all. Rose is a huge crime fiction fan so it comes as no surprise she approached the novel from that angle. Donougher, on the other hand, seems to understand the complexity of the novel. The timeline is much more detailed than the basic ones that accompined other translations.
It has a lovely cover and the paper feels nice to touch. It is a nice book to hold and read. It will also look great on your book shelf.
So there you go. If you want the best possible version of Les Misérables in English you must get this edition. It is very cheap at the moment. I bought it for £12. The hardback will probably become more scare when the paperback comes out this year.