21 October 2007

The 4th English Translation of Noli Me Tangere

To date the novel Noli Me Tangere, which was originally written by our beloved national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal (1861-1896), has four translations in the English language.

Rizal finished the Noli in 1887, and published 2,000 copies in Berlin. Many thousands more have since circulated, in the original Spanish, and in translations into German, French, Chinese, English, Filipino, and other Philippine languages. The best known translations in English are those by Charles Derbyshire (1912) and Leon Ma. Guerrero (1961). From the inside front flap of Noli Me Tangere, translated by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin, edited by Raul L. Locsin, Bookmark, 1996. Cover art by Felix Mago Miguel.

The book summary for the 1927 edition of Derbyshire’s (Noli Me Tangere/The Social Cancer: Charles Derbyshire English Translation) translation published by Philippine Education Company is found at Filipiniana.Net.

Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin of Talisay, Negros Occidental was 86 years old when she accepted the invitation to translate Noli Me Tangere into English. She passed away in 1995 after completing the translation. Raul L. Locsin, her son, editor and publisher of Business World, edited the translation, attempting to preserve in English the cadence and color of Spanish. This third English version of the novel is noted as the most authoritative and faithful translation to date. From the back cover of Noli Me Tangere, translated by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin, edited by Raul L. Locsin, University of Hawaii Press, 1997. Cover design by Santos Barbasa.

The fourth and current translation is by Harold Augenbraum - Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) - published by Penguin Classics in 2006. This new translation includes an extensive introduction and notes that draw on a wealth of Rizal scholarship. This is the first work of Filipino literature to be published in Penguin Classics. It is also the first instance that the said publishing company released a Southeast Asian book under its well-known banner.

Below are the book description and the first review that I managed to find from the Penguin Group Site while googling around.

“In more than a century since its appearance, José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere has become widely known as the great novel of the Philippines. A passionate love story set against the ugly political backdrop of repression, torture, and murder, “The Noli,” as it is called in the Philippines, was the first major artistic manifestation of Asian resistance to European colonialism, and Rizal became a guiding conscience—and martyr—for the revolution that would subsequently rise up in the Spanish province.”

"A beautiful new translation... Rizal's rich, moving novel...[is] perhaps the most important novel in Philippine literature." —Jessica Hagedorn



  1. Hi! You have such interesting Blogs and this one really caught my attention. This will make it easier for others to understand and dig deep into the mind of the hero when he wrote this wonderful piece of work. I think this ought to be interesting reading.

  2. Hey Alex,

    Just got my copy yesterday (4 Feb 2008). My officemate was kind enough to have bought one copy for me. He took time roaming around just to find the last copy from Barnes & Noble at Metro Center in Colma, California, during his recent business trip.

    Don't you worry I will share with you whatever new insights I will discover from this new reading indulgence.

    Many thanks for droppin' by and for the wonderful words.


  3. I have a copy of the translation by Locsin and have been meaning to read it for a while now. Thanks for this post!

  4. I hope you can share with us your personal review on Locsin’s English version of Noli.

    Thanks for the visit.

  5. The penguin classics version was wonderfully translated. I'd rather read the English translations of Noli since it's quite difficult to fathom it in Filipino... and it's a must for Filipino class, after all.