Customer Review

794 of 804 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars steel for your spine, December 22, 2002
This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
One should have more than one translation for Meditations. Note this difference between Maxwell Staniforth's translation in 1964 (Penguin Classics) and Hay's 2002 translation in these two passages.
1964: When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out-of-tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.
2002: When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
1964: Adapt yourself to the environment in which your life has been cast, and show true love to the fellow-mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.
2002: The things ordained for you - teach yourself to be at one with those. And the people who share them with you - treat them with love. With real love.
The 1964 version is regal, while the 2002 (Hays') version is Aurelius writing, quickly, in a spiral notebook while on horseback, the equivalent of "memo to myself."
Reading this book is like taking a cold shower, or visiting a favorite bartender, who insists on serving you coffee, not drink. Hays has brought us a Marcus Aurelius who puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you in the eye, and tells you like it is: Get over yourself. You can't change the world. Do your best and realize you are of this earth. Human experience is muddy, so what? This book is best read in tough times, when you could use a little steel in your spine.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 6, 2007 11:39:16 PM PDT
mad says:
i preferred the 1964 translations that you provided. hm...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2007 3:07:35 PM PDT
It shouldn't be too hard to find that translation used here on Amazon or in a used book store. I found it for $2 in pretty decent condition.

Posted on Apr 14, 2008 6:08:41 PM PDT
well said!

Posted on May 4, 2008 1:59:53 AM PDT
Stan says:
Don, sorry it took me so long to find your posting - extremely well said indeed.

Posted on Sep 21, 2008 11:26:42 AM PDT
I loved your review...but it has convinced me to buy 1964 translation, not the other one as I believe was intended. I prefer the poetry to the choppy verbiage on horseback. Thanks for your review all the same. Interesting.

Posted on Nov 15, 2008 11:42:25 PM PST
TJ says:
Thank you!

Posted on Dec 14, 2008 1:29:02 AM PST
Although the author of the review makes a valuable point about reading multiple translations, his example obscures the fact that the 1964 line is uncharacteristically clear. For every one of those there are ten more beautifully profound points that are muddled with "thys" "thous" and convoluted language. Aurelius' work was intended to be a repetitive, therapeutic primer for himself. In order to full access what he was reminded himself, the language must shift with the culture of the generation reading it. In fact, "regal" would have been the LAST thing that Marcus would have wanted to be used to describe his philosophy or diction. We have massively simplified our prose and for that we deserve a simplified Meditations. So any aesthetic losses are paid for many, many times over.

Posted on Jan 2, 2009 2:40:32 PM PST
tennismike says:
I am very grateful to the reviewer for taking the time to illustrate the differences in translation. I have to agree with the others who've commented that the earlier, 1964, version is better by far. It is not only clear but memorable in wording and rhythm.

Posted on Apr 20, 2009 3:29:30 AM PDT
Thank you so much for your review. I, too, much prefer the 1964 translation and will look for it instead of this one..

Posted on Jul 24, 2009 8:51:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 24, 2009 8:51:53 AM PDT
Polynikes says:
Good review, but I join the ranks of those who prefer the 1964 translation.
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