The Confessions of St. Augustine, one of the great classics of all time, is hard to match in terms of fervor of religious spirit, depth of psychological self-revelation and sheer force of literary style.
Whoever has read it in the original Latin, knows how much it must lose when translated. That notwithstanding, many translations have been made into all the major languages; and rightly so. Whatever may be lost in translation, Augustine's work still retains immense power, communicating to the reader the sense of coming into contact with a unique life and a fascinating personality.
The 1838 translation by Edward Bouverie Pusey (one of the founders of the Oxford Movement) marked a notable attempt to convey the elegance of the original. Pusey's translation is often referred to; yet it is seldom read. The reason, I think, is clear. As was customary at the time for such a work, he chose to use the Thou form of address - with all its connected verbal forms. The result, at least for a twenty-first century reader, is precisely a disturbing loss of elegance. Nowadays, most people's aesthetic sense finds it difficult to ride smoothly over words such as "begannest", "breathedst", "constituteth", "couldest", "deridedest", "forgottest", "ornamentedst", "preventedst", "regeneratedst", "strengthenedst", "thrustedst"...
So I thought it might be worthwhile to adapt Pusey in the same way as I did some time ago for Ronald Knox's Bible: i.e. to produce a 'you' version. With the experience and programs I developed for revising Knox it has been relatively simple to do the same with Pusey's translation. I think - I hope - that the result is positive.
A small suggestion. While The Confessions was not written as rhetoric or in the style of a sermon, reading this version aloud (even to oneself) can help to grasp its rhythm, fervor and beauty.
Cormac Burke, Nairobi, July 2012