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Rachel’s review of The Brothers Karamazov
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Nov 21, 2008 01:33PM
I love Dostoyevsky's writings but this is the one that I have never read. So my mission to day read this starting today. Thnx for the review.
Nov 21, 2008 01:37PM
Excellent! I hope you like it. :)
Dec 19, 2008 03:05AM
You make an interesting comment about the word meek. While you're obviously right about its connotation in modern English, I don't think you can replace it with "gentle" without decontextualizing the idea. Yes, Alyosha does have "gentle" eyes, but they are also meek, as in humble, befitting a character whose religiosity involves accepting the sins of everyone and everything as his own in the process of loving and forgiving them. In Russian as well as English the word "meek" makes a standing allusion (Blessed are the ...) which you lose with "gentle". For the 18th century reader, gentle contained both its modern significance (good, kindly) as well as civic values like upstanding and decent. It has never, however, implied the sort of profound, and lets face it, even servile humility you get with meek, which fits Alyosha's relationship with Father Zosima to a tee. Anyway, I would agree that in modern literature, "gentle eyes" makes better writing than "meek eyes," but here, think it misses the point.
May 10, 2009 03:55PM
I wonder why you dis the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation It captures the rhythnms of the passionate, argumentative discourse of Russians, a discourse I was raised in, transferred to English. I can hear people talking and crying and shouting in this, but not in the older translation by whoever (I forget). Also, Dostoevsky's sly humor to the point sometimes of parody comes through to me in this translation. Obviously, you know more about this than I do, but I'd be interested in your response
Nov 08, 2009 02:49PM
Oh man, I'm about to buy this book and so I went looking for opinions on all the available translations, and I must say I feel torn. I am mostly persuaded by your review, but there's a couple other ones out there which fierily attack Garnett's translation and praise Andrew MacAndrew's. I don't speak russian, but I can read in portuguese, spanish and french.. so I might as well give up and seek for a less "polemic" translations in one of those.. =p
Nov 08, 2009 08:22PM
If you want a translation that captures the rhythms of Russian dialogue, then the P-V is the one to get. Dostoevsky had a tremendous influence on early 20th century novels largely because of his masterful and realistic dialogue. The older translations smooth out this dialogue by applying Strunk and White notions of prose to it. I have reviewed both this and Dostoevsky's
, both in the P-V translations.
Dec 30, 2010 10:16PM
great review, Rachel
Dec 30, 2010 11:17PM
Elaine -- I think you're right about the rhythm, but not the words. The translation makes dramatic exits feel clunky and awkward, and makes the characters sound illiterate (IMHO). I'd love a new translation that worked more from the intention of the writing and less from a literal translation -- the Garnett translations are poetic, but somewhat outmoded and smoothed out, while the P-V are awkward and clunky, but try to be truer. I prefer Garnett, but I agree, something that could capture both upsides would be ideal. :)
(last edited Jan 01, 2011 11:32PM)
Jan 01, 2011 11:32PM
(It got 5 stars from me too.)
I forget which translation I read, Rachel, but if I reread it, I'll try the Garnett version, or if I can't find it the P-V.
I can't remember who did the old guy in, either!
Nov 28, 2011 09:23PM
Excellent review :D. At some point in this lifetime time, when I get over the pain of The Life of Ivan Denisovich, I'll read some of these Russian greats.
May 12, 2013 08:50PM
I read somewhere that Gannett left things out...and that the P-V was THE translation to get, etc. I listened to TBK on CDs during my time with the flu last month. I don't even know what translation it was-it didn't say on the case. Oh how I loved having a reason to not do anything but listen to that wonderful story. Anyway, now I've ordered the P-V, so I can re-read it at my leisure.
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