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Ten novels to read in translation this European Day of Languages


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Today is European Day of Languages, a day where we celebrate the wide variety of languages spoken on our continent, which is much needed given that we tend to focus on English as the be all and end all.

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For our part in celebrating the beautiful diversity of languages spoken in Europe, we at TNS have decided to share the best known books that were originally written in another language and then translated into English. If you're feeling bold this European Languages Day and are wanting to learn a new language, maybe try one of these in their original forms:

1. War and Peace-Leo Tolstoy-Russian (Original title: Voyná i mir)

It takes a brave person to attempt Tolstoy's massive tome, considering that it's over a thousand pages in length but an even braver person to attempt reading the book in its original Russian (with some French).

2. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo-Stieg Larsson-Swedish (Original title: Män som hatar kvinnor)

Yup before it was a film with Daniel Craig, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a book and since the setting is Swedish and the author is Swedish, it should come as no surprise, that book itself was originally written in yup, Swedish!

3. The Little Prince-Antoine de Saint Exupery-French (Original title: Le Petit Prince)

This famous French allegory is the most translated book in the French language. 

4. The Shadow of The Wind-Carlos Ruiz Zafon-Spanish (Original title: La sombra del viento)

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's book about a boy's quest to find the elusive author of his favourite book became worldwide bestseller when it was released in 2001, and has been translated into 30 different languages!

5. The Diary of A Young Girl-Anne Frank-Dutch (Original title: Het Achterhuis)

Naturally, Anne Frank's famous diary, one of the most well known WWII memoirs in the world was originally written in her native Dutch.

6. Les Miserables-Victor Hugo-French

Victor Hugo's sprawling epic about the French uprising of 1832 was obviously originally published in French and has retained its French title in English translation as it has become so renowned. Take note though, this book is quite the time commitment, at 1463 pages!

7. Inkheart-Cornelia Funke-German (Original title: Tintenherz)

Before Cornelia Funke's story was a not so great film, it was a beautiful book about a girl whose father can read people into and out of books and it was original published in Funke's native German. Her books have also been translated into more than 30 languages.

8. The Three Musketeers-Alexandre Dumas-French (Original title: Les Trois Mousquetaires)

Andre Dumas' book is possibly one of the most famous historical novels of all time, it became a series on the BBC and even if you have no idea that Athos, Porthos and Aramis are the names of the musketeers, it's likely you will have heard of "The Three Musketeers" in some shape or form.

9. The Grimm Tales-The Brother's Grimm-German (Original title: Bruder Grimm: Kinder und Hausmarchen)

The famous Grimm fairytales, the origins of many of your favourite Disney films, including Cinderella, Snow White & Sleeping Beauty were originally published in German. Take note though: these tales are not the ones you know from Disney, they are so much darker!

10. Anna Karenina-Leo Tolstoy-Russian (Original title: Анна Каренина)

Tolstoy's other massive epic, Anna Karenina, follows the affair between lead character Anna and Count Alexei Kirrillovich that causes scandals through Russian society. It has been translated into numerous languages, has spawned numerous adaptations and is one of the best known novels in the world. 

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