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The first sentence of Anna Karenina follows:

Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему.

What would be a better translation for "несчастлива"? "Unhappy" or "miserable"? Or maybe another word? The commonly used "unhappy" in English seems too weak, based on my knowledge of Polish.

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  • I would also like to know (presuming this is what you are thinking) whether there is a sense of 'unlucky' there. – SAH Apr 15 '18 at 4:50
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Authors of three translations have opted for unhappy

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Garnett.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” wrote Pevear and Volokhonsky.

Here, meanwhile, is Schwartz: “All happy families resemble one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Source

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"Unhappy" seems to be the best translation for "несчастливая". "Miserable" would be a good fit for "несчастная", but that's a stronger word.

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