Do old books need to be translated into, nominally, the same language?

I recently read that a new edition of "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" will have one offensive word search-and-replaced. It was a Swedish newspaper and the tone of the article was against that sort of meddling. Maybe the word isn't quite as offensive here as in USA, maybe some people feel that nobody today need to feel offended by what someone wrote 130 years ago and taking place 40 years before that or that it's necessary using strong words to get the desired effect the author tried to achieve.

Me, I don't know. I've read it, but it was long ago and in Swedish translation and I don't remember much of it. However, I think that if you alter it in order to be able to use it in schools, the value of it diminishes if it's not the original; Replace it with some other, more suitable, book instead.

That said, I really think it's appropriate to "translate" old books because they can otherwise be hard to understand parts of and offensive words and words which have a very different meaning. This is because anything which attracts a lot of attention but isn't meant to will change the reading experience.

A few weeks ago I re-read "The Martian Chronicles". This copy seems to never have been read by anyone by me since it was printed in 1954 and personally I've owned it probably 20 years or more without reading it. Read it earlier, in translation. By the way, this isn't really a digression, this book was in parts hard to understand because it's written about 60 years ago. For example, when describing the colonisation it says "Everyone knew who the first women would be." But not me. Seems to me there're two main alternatives, but I can't decide which was meant. Also, this book is either not really about the future, or a possible future, but about its present or the author has a negative opinion about what might not change. As an example one character mentions, co-incidently around 2011 I think, that there are some states with anti-lynching laws, to his dissatisfaction. (Yes, I know the first year without a lynching in USA was in the book's future, 1953 I think.) This makes me think that there are probably other things I've thought one thing about but not taken into consideration the time the book was written.

Another example is historical TV series and movies which some people criticise for not actually being historical in that the characters have perfect teeth and so on. Well, unless it's about health issues it makes perfect sense not to attract attention to them. After all, a movie is just a way telling a story and a good story usually doesn't involve lots of irrelevant details. Sometimes they do: Jack Vance's stories are a good example of that. And... some movies aren't much about telling stories; Some movies are more akin to circus acts.

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