I need to use a primary source in my paper. I want to know information on the best translation of a particular work in a language other than English.
There are a number of ways that you can determine the best translation:
1. This is a very good question to ask your professor. He or she may know of a particularly good translation that may not be as well known as other translated versions.
2. Look at the bibliographies of scholarly books or articles that deal with the text. If numerous authors use the same translation, this is a fairly good indicator that the translation is considered a 'standard' or 'canonical' translation.
3. Look at the publisher of a translation. Academic publishers, such as a university press, are likely to offer scholarly editions of translated works. Popular presses may be more likely to offer a more "entertaining" version of the text.
4. Look at the introduction or prefatory material for a translation. These sources should describe the philosophical position of the translator. Some translators endeavor to "interpret" the original text, while others strive to give a very close, word-for-word transliteration. Choose the translation that is suited to your goals and the objectives of your class/instructor.
5. As always, you can Ask a Librarian!