There are other English versions of the Mahabharata, some shorter, some longer. But apart from William Buck’s rendition, none have been able to capture the blend of religion and martial spirit that pervades the original epic. It succeeds eminently in illustrating how seemingly grand and maginificent human endeavors turn out to be astoundingly insignificant in the perspective of eternity.
One feature that will strike the reader of this work is its abundance of names, sometimes long difficult words, sometimes names that look alike except for a single letter. But to learn the characters’ names is an inevitable hurdle that has to be overcome before the Mahabharata can be appreciated, and William Buck has smoothed the way by regularizing many of the names, making them sound more like English and omitting the tedious diacritical marks. Also at times he has altered the names of rivers and mountains, as the Javanese have done.