The Etymologies of the last writer of antiquity (in the west), the 7th century Isidore of Seville, seem really rather interesting. I’ve been browsing through book 6 at Lacus Curtius, and it has brief but useful notes on all sorts of things. So I began wondering if I could get hold of a translation. It’s much easier to skim read for interesting stuff in English, after all!
Rather to my surprise I find not one but two translations.
First, there is Priscilla Throop’s two volume hardcover version (at Amazon, vol. 1, vol.2, at Amazon.co.uk: vol.1, vol.2), from January 2006, at $28 per volume. It turns out that Mrs Throop self-publishes her translations through Lulu.com, and she has made quite a number of translations of medieval texts, as may be seen on Lulu. There is an Amazon preview of the Isidore, and the opening pages all look very good and professional.
Then there is the single volume by Stephen A. Barney plus a team of translators (Amazon here, at Amazon.co.uk here), published in hardcover by Cambridge University Press for the enormous price of $205 in June 2006, and published in paperback at 20% of the hardcover price — just below the combined price of the two Throop volumes, which is rather mean of CUP — in 2010. It also has an Amazon preview, also looks good. Curiously it advertises itself as the first English translation in the preface. Did the translators not know of the Throop version? Did CUP not know?
Naturally one feels for the underdog, the little guy up against the mighty combine and marketing machine of CUP. But which to choose? If one or the other had offered a download version, I might go for that. But neither does, as far as I could tell, although possibly an electronic version of the CUP one exists through one of their university-online book access schemes.
I suspect that the Throop version has been rather more widely purchased by real people spending their own money. Let’s hear it for the little guy!