Lost in translation?
How much in fact can one gain from reading a novel in translation, as distinct from the original text? Balzac, for example. wrote at great speed and with little attention to linguistic precision; his novels are important for character. plot, and social analysis. So go ahead and read them in translation: you won't miss much. With Flaubert it is just the opposite. He claimed. a little improbably, to have spent three days on a single sentence. Flaubert's exquisite music only comes through in the original.
A classic of modern Italian literature, Quer pasticciaccio brutto de Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda, presents a different problem because of the writer's extensive use of Roman dialect. Once I could handle it. but no longer. The Trimalchio scene in Petronius' Satyricon similarly characterizes the arriviste by his use of vulgar Latin instead of the literary standard.