Republic (Hackett Classics) 2nd Edition
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C.D.C. Reeve has taken the excellent Grube translation and, without sacrificing accuracy, rendered it into a vivid and contemporary style. It is intensity that is often lost in translation, but not here. This is not just a matter of style. The Republic is full of brilliant thoughts, and one needs to preserve brilliance to capture them. In the cave of translations, Reeve’s revision of Grube's Republic is closest to the sun. --Jonathan Lear, University of Chicago
Reeve has reworked the Grube translation thoroughly, raising the level of philosophical accuracy and updating the language, all the while retaining--and indeed enhancing--the celebrated readability of the Grube original. For a long time to come, Grube-Reeve will deservedly be the first choice of scholars and students alike. --John Cooper, Princeton University
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The top of the list for requirements with this kind of work is that all the identifying numbers and letters identifying where you are in the work are present, and searchable. This is huge. There are probably a dozen or so editions from a half dozen major translators, and the only way to find your way around is through these line numbers, which all good scholarly citations should include. I just did a quick look at the preview of Allan Bloom's edition, and these numbers are missing from the Kindle. If you want Bloom's translation, get it on paper (which does have the line numbering) and get this one for searching.
I will mention that this also has the virtue of not being the 19th century translation of Benjamin Jowett. You will not be mislead by Jowett, but there have been several newer translations which have improved on his work. This one by G. M. A. Grube may be one of the best, but even if it is not, there is always virtue in having more than one translation. My hand copy translation is by Paul Shorey, in the Loeb Classics edition, with the Greek. So I like having the alternative available.
I somehow made it through high school and college learning about Plato and Socrates without reading any full-length works. That's changing this spring as I'm taking a discussion-based class on Plato's Republic. This text was recommended by our instructor, and I can see why. The translation is not cumbersome by striving for sheer literalness, but instead seeks to capture the flavor of the discussions Socrates had with others that Plato as a youth observed.
Footnotes are provided to explain the occasional word that has a different classical than contemporary meaning -- and yet you can read each of the 10 books (chapters) that comprise this volume first without attending to the footnotes, then re-reading the books along with their footnotes.
After having seen what gifted vs. pedestrian translations can do to the vigor and beauty of classic works (Beowulf, the Epic of Gilgamesh and The Odyssey come to mind), I can understand why Grube's translation is highly regarded. According to the scholar who performed the revision, no such work was called for until 20 years after publication (I am guessing to introduce more current English idiom and turn of phrase). The person who conducted the revision was encouraged to do so by the translator's family, which speaks to continuity.
Given its impact on Western philosophy and thought, the book may at first seem slender to you. Keep in mind that much of it is in the form of dialog -- presented for the most part without space-consuming "I said"s and "he said"s; clarity is preserved with paragraph indents. The brief italicized introductions to each book help ensure ready comprehension without spoonfeeding any philosophy.
The index and bibliography also are clear, well-presented and helpful. Note that the latter is toward the front of the book.
I applaud the price point; however, I think purchasers would have been better served by paying a buck more for better-quality paper stock. This is a book that cries out to be kept on one's bookshelf well past the completion of a particular class or a once-over reading. Unfortunately, the paper stock already suffers from read-through, even before being subjected to the pencil/pen jottings that many readers will be compelled to make. Those of you who tend to use a highlighter, I'd advise to do so with caution because the paper seems pretty absorbent.
Top international reviews
Content-wise, the translation is amazing, and the notes are excellent - it's a highly recommended book.
Notes on the transfer to Kindle: There are some very nice touches here, like the fact that the end-noted notes are linked to wherever they occur in the text. This makes it very easy to "flip" back and forth between notes and text. This has not been done on some other Hackett publishing Kindle transfers, so beware.
The 3 stars is because of the section referencing. Standard referencing of sections in plato looks like "554c8" - that is section 554, subsection c, line 8. In the paperback version this is easily flipped to, but the text contains the information in the margins, and is split out as above: look up section 554, then search down for subsection c.
In the kindle edition, as the section referenced aren't in the margins but incorporated into the text, it would have been useful if they had always included the letter with the section reference - in square brackets or something similar. [554c] - this would have facilitated faster lookups. It sounds like a minor point, but if you are buying this text for study purposes, you often have to flip between many sections, and having to turn pages to find the right subsection is a pain.
Still, some thought has been given to the transfer, so it's not all bad.
Well worth the purchase.
Fun and interesting.
This work is based on the original Grube translation, widely accepted by scholars as the best interpretation to read, and has been revised by Reeve into fantastically clear, easy to read english, whether a scholar or just a casual reader. Plato's thought is crucially preserved. There is also an excellent introduction, and a concise and clear summary of each chapter at the beginning of each.
Highly recommended - this is worth paying double the very reasonable price.
Sydney, Australia, August 2014.