3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great book, mediocre translation.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Penguin Classics Republic (Paperback)Sir Desmond Lee's second edition of this, the translation of Plato's Republic, misses the mark it seeks to strike. By using too much contemporary (for the 1970's) English, we lose the feel for what Plato was actually trying to say. This translation would have read much better had it followed the original text more faithfully. This, though, is one of the pitfalls of writing for Penguin: if it's a translated work, it better sound modern--no matter that it was written two millenia ago.
But The Republic itself? Stunningly simple. Beautifully wrought. Criticized as a bone thrown to totalitarianism, this work still remains the core of all modern political, social and philosophical thought. Most powerful is the opening Book, where Socrates definitively refutes the common herd's definition of justice. The masterful reasoning he employs to demolish Thrasymachus's argument that justice is that which is in the interest of the stronger party will enlighten as well as refresh: might does not make right, then or now. The later Books pack comparatively less punch, but nonetheless will give any thoughtful person plenty to sink his teeth into. The philosophical section on the Line, the Sun and the Cave cannot be understood without supplemental reading, as they form an integral part of Plato's theory of Forms, an idea he never fleshed out concretely in any one tract. Modern philosophy departments have consigned this book to the trash heap, to which the objective reader can only say this: If The Republic is trash, then our own generation's literary legacy looks bleak indeed.