Then there is the question of foreign literature. That is a terrible question, and one which is safer to avoid. I knew a woman once, she was a German woman, and she spoke French like M. Claudel, and English almost as excellently as I do myself. She also knew Italian and was excessively tiresome about the early poetry of, …… well let us say Leopardi. Then one day she asked me about Sologub. I said I had read some stories of his which had much impressed me. She asked me whether I had read them in Russian. I said that I had read them in English.
‘Oh,’ she answered, sinking back among the cushions, ‘I think it is a crime to read the Russian masters except in the original.’
Harold Nicholson, ‘How to read’ (1937).
I wonder how many of us are not guilty of this ‘crime’? 😉
Seriously though, if it wasn’t for the availability of having good English translations for foreign literature around, imagine what we (the lesser mortals who are not fluent in a dozen foreign tongues) would all be missing out on.