Reading Proust: The Choice of Translation

Not having French, a serious decision must be made before embarking on Proust: which translation? There are a number of major translations in English, including the original by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, the revision by Terence Kilmartin, a further revision by D. J. Enright, and a new translation by a group of translators, each to a volume.

Typically, modern translations are better than older ones and revised translations better than the originals, but not always. A few aspects work against the latest translation. Perhaps the most important is the style of the translation, but also significant is that only the first four volumes are available in the United States, where I am currently based, due to the extension of copyright protection of the original text, as dictated by the Sonny Bono Copyright Act. So leaving aside the new translation, I have chosen to use what is generally regarded as the best English translation of Proust, the Enright revision of the Scott Moncrieff and Kilmartin text.

To read more about choosing a translation, you should read a two-part series in the New York Review of Books by André Aciman. The first part is currently freely available on the NYRB website but the second part requires a subscription or one-off article purchase.

The specific edition I am using is The Modern Library Classics paperback edition. Links to the books at Amazon are:
Volume 1: Swann’s Way (606 text pages)
Volume 2: Within a Budding Grove
Volume 3: The Guermantes Way
Volume 4: Sodom and Gomorrah
Volume 5: The Captive & The Fugitive
Volume 6: Time Regained