I read McDuff's translation of C&P some months ago and I really enjoyed it.
>The Brothers Karamazov
Should I stick with McDuff?
>War and Peace
Avsey for the Karamazov brothers
Briggs for war and peace
For Anna Karenina I would urge you to be brave and read one if the new translations by Bartlett or Schwartz and report back to us. Bartlett seems kind the better choice of the two based on reviews thigh. I read the p&v version.
>>The Brothers Karamazov
>Should I stick with McDuff?
* David McDuff is a good choice; other good ones are
* Ralph Matlaw's revision of Constance Garnett,
* David Magarshack,
* Andrew MacAndrew, and
* Ignat Avsey >>7604873
>>War and Peace
* Aylmer and Louise Maude (always a first consideration for Tolstoy);
* Ann Dunnigan's translation is also well regarded
(Anthony Briggs would be my third recommendation, but I don't know much about his work, and I have some reservations, so I would personally stick with the two above. Also, I don't have a positive view of Pevear and Volokhonsky, but I will acknowledge with their work on Tolstoy in general and W&P in particular that they don't smooth over Tolstoy's repetition of words but instead recognize it as deliberate and render it as such in translation. I'm still on the fence about how they [and others] treat the French in W&P.)
* Magarshack (although I think of him as more of a Dostoyevsky specialist)
* Modern Library's revision of Garnett
(There are issues with this title, such as different versions of the Russian text, that make the issue complicated.)
You seem to know your way around. What about Notes from Underground and The Gambler?
Also, maybe you have read The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Confession translations by Peter Carson? I found them to be incredible and I'd like a second opinion but being relatively a relatively recent work that's not easy.
> In the last two days of his own life, Peter Carson completed these new translations of The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Confession before he succumbed to cancer in January 2013. Carson, the eminent British publisher, editor, and translator who, in the words of his author Mary Beard, "had probably more influence on the literary landscape of [England] over the past fifty years than any other single person," must have seen the irony of translating Ilyich, Tolstoy's profound meditation on death and loss, "but he pressed on regardless, apparently refusing to be distracted by the parallel of literature and life." In Carson's shimmering prose, these two transcendent works are presented in their most faithful rendering in English. Unlike so many previous translations that have tried to smooth out Tolstoy's rough edges, Carson presents a translation that captures the verisimilitude and psychological realism of the original Russian text.
With Notes from Underground, there's a significant translation choice that comes up right away in the first line and that determines how the Underground Man and his pathology are to be considered. The line is 'I am a sick man ... I am a _____ man'. A translation that gets it right fills in the blank with something related to a psychological or sociological reading, like 'spiteful' or 'nasty'. I believe that Garnett, Magarshack, and MacAndrew all translate it like this. (The alternative is to put the discussion in moral/ethical terms, which is incorrect, by using the word 'wicked'; this is what P&V do.)
For The Gambler (which I like very much), I'm not really up on issues from one translation to another. In fact I'm not totally sure which translation I have read; it was in the public domain, so likely Garnett (although it could've been C.J. Hogarth or Frederick Whishaw).
I'm not familiar with Carson's work with Tolstoy, but thanks for putting it on my list of things to look into.
Something I've noticed that really irks me is that people who really like Dostoevsky tend to also like Tolstoy, whereas people who really like Tolstoy tend to dislike Dostoevsky. Anyone else notice this?
No, not really. Most of my friends are avid readers and all of them like both. Sure they have some critics to specific works from each side, but I didn't came across that patter you mention.
Dostoyevsky isn't as good as Tolstoy, so some people like Tolstoy but not him. That doesn't mean they hate Dostoyevsky -- and it certainly doesn't mean everyone who really likes Tolstoy doesn't like Dostoyevsky.
Just a heads up for those considering Crime and Punishment translations, get the Oliver Ready one (2014). I abandoned P&V halfway for this edition and it is just so much more readable the second time around: vivid imagery and detail that were awkwardly phrased in PV have came to life in this version that really makes this a much more pleasurable experience.
It's that much better.
>On David McDuff's Penguin translation he continues: "McDuff carries this literalism the furthest of any of the translators. In his Brothers Karamazov the odd, fussy tone of the narrator is well rendered in the preface....At times, indeed, the convoluted style might make the reader unfamiliar with Dostoevsky's Russian question the translator's command of English. More seriously, this literalism means that the dialogue is sometimes impossibly odd—and as a result rather dead....Such 'foreignizing' fidelity makes for difficult reading."
I will probably be going with Avsey's version:
> "His not entirely unprecedented choice of a more natural-sounding English formulation is symptomatic of his general desire to make his text English....His is an enjoyable version in the domesticating tradition."
I go with P&V. Orthodox Christians likes those translations because the wife translates theology for the Church (and has long before she did Dostoevsky), and so she can catch all the terms and nuances.
Haven't read much of these two but so far:
I hate and love both of them depending on their work. Dosto's short stuff is pretty hit and miss and Tolstoy's peasants-and-farmers-are-the-meek-that-shall-inherit-the-earth phase is below average.
Thanks for the insight. I'm curious: whom are you quoting? Looks interesting. Also it's interesting that the person would consider McDuff the most literalist of translators, even moreso than P&V. (I'm currently reading McDuff's Karamazov, and I'm not finding any of the problems mentioned in that quote, but then I do have a familiarity with Dostoyevsky and with the book.)
A year back I bought some books without giving much thought to the translation.
I recently realized the importance of the translator and have this dreadful feeling of having screwed up.
Here's what I bought.
1. Notes from Underground (Bantam Classic): Finished it.
Translator: Mirra Ginsburg
Introduction: Donald Fanger
2. The Idiot (Penguin Classics): Yet to read
Translator: David McDuff (seems good from what everyone is saying)
Introduction: William Mills Todd III
3. The Brothers Karamazov (Bantam Classic): Yet to read
Translator: Andrew R McAndrew <----- Really doubt this one.
Introduction: Konstantin Mochulsky
Since The brothers karamzov is considered his best, I want to be sure that I read the best translation there is.
How much did I mess up?
Should I sell these books and get better translations? I don't want to read a bad translation of such an acclaimed author. What translations would you recommend? Please help.
>trust me on this
McDuff is an excellent translator and his work with The Idiot lives up to that. If you say he should read Avsey's translation instead, then at least present your argument.
>implying Dostoevsky wanted to go full-retard with Church terminology
sure, religion takes center stage in his works, but is technical religionspeak as important? I'd argue it isn't with Dostoevsky.
>answers to constantine
>taking the bait
so is my gf...kills me she hasn't read dostoevsky. I'd love to read it in mother russian...same for gogol and babel.
she does read me mayakovsky for shits and giggles though.
>not a total loss
I'll give you the rundown on the translations I mentioned in >>7605279:
* Matlaw's revision of Garnett is good for a reading that preserves the older style of Garnett's time, while correcting her omissions, insertions/editorializing, and mistakes;
* Magarshack is another good 'older'-style translation;
* MacAndrew is more modern and is also fairly free with his translation, but it's fine (his was the first translation of Karamazov that I read, btw, so I personally think you'd be fine with it, just heed what I told you here >>7608899 about the Introduction);
* McDuff and Avsey are also more modern readings and well regarded, with McDuff being maybe more literal than Avsey.
The Russians fucking suck. I read that Brothers Karamazov. Boring and pointless. If I wanted to read a pointless story I could at least read one that was entertaining and not 800 pages long. Might as well read fuckin Neil Gaiman or some shit.
What I'm referring to has to do with phrasing etc. that sounds like it came from an earlier time vs. sounding more contemporary. Garnett's work is often labeled 'Victorian', if that helps; or think of Dickens' ornate style (not that Garnett is quite to that extent).
I'll type out a little comparison of Garnett's and MacAndrew's work for comparison. This is how Garnett (via Matlaw's revision) renders part of a speech by Father Zosima in Book 2, Chapter 2:
>"Fear nothing and never be afraid; and don't fret. If only your penitence fail not, God will forgive all. There is no sin, and there can be no sin on all the earth, which the Lord will not forgive to the truly repentant! Man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God."
And here is what MacAndrew did with it:
>"Don't be afraid of anything, ever. And do not grieve. As long as your repentance does not weaken, God will forgive everything. There is not--there cannot be--a sin on earth that God will not forgive the truly repentant. Why, a man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God."
So note for example the difference between Garnett's 'If only your penitence fail not' and MacAndrew's 'As long as your repentance does not weaken'. (Also I'm going to point out something on the last sentence. MacAndrew adds the expletive 'Why', but otherwise the two are basically the same. Not only does the addition by MacAndrew make the sentence seem more modern, but it's also more faithful since the original has an extra bit at the beginning of the sentence which Garnett omitted.)
Peter France from 'The Oxford Guide to Literature in English translations'.
>France writes: "Pevear and Volokhonsky, while they too stress the need to exhume the real, rough-edged Dostoevsky from the normalization practised by earlier translators, generally offers a rather more satisfactory compromise between the literal and the readable. In particular, their rendering of dialogue is often livelier and more colloquial than McDuff's.... Elsewhere, it has to be said, the desire to replicate the vocabulary or syntax of the Russian results in unnecessary awkwardness and obscurity.