The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov discussion

The Master and Margarita
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Mary | 134 comments Mod
Discuss translation options/opinions/issues here.


Mary | 134 comments Mod
Thanks Moonbutterfly for this link http://www.logosbooksrecords.com/2009...


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
I currently have the Burgin and O'Connor, but I like to have two translations if possible, so I am probably going to order the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation too. I may email some Slavics profs at Penn for their views, and I'll join MB in doing some further research.


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
GR review with a great overview of different translations: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

and there's a GR discussion of the different translations here:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/6...


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways (Oldfan) The only one I've read is the Ginsburg. I want to read the Pevear/Volkhonsky version this go-round.


Mary | 134 comments Mod
Thanks for that info Moonbutterfly! I have the Ginsburg translation. Boo. I think I'll look for the Pevear & Volokhonsky version...


Mark (markmckeejr) | 37 comments The Peaver, Volokhonsky translation was very funny, I thought. At least in the scenes that were meant to be funny. I don't know anything about Russian, or the translation of Russian to English, but know that P/V have won awards for their translations of other Russian masters. In the reading itself, P/V's is very smooth. Doesn't have that "arcane" feel that some Russian translations do


message 8: by Kris (last edited Jul 26, 2012 12:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Moonbutterfly wrote: "Mirra Ginsburg Translation (1967)
Ginsburg's translation was translated from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete. Many advised against this translation.

Michael Glenny Translation ..."


Thanks so much for these overviews, MB! They go nicely with the links I found.

I had to laugh at this translation: ""To hell with everything, it's time to take that Kislovodsk vacation." (Karpelson)" Eek.

Richard and Mark, I'll be joining you with the P/V translation, I think.


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Moonbutterfly wrote: "That is good to know. I think it comes down to P&V and Burgin & O’Connor."

Agreed.


Mary | 134 comments Mod
Why does Ginsburg have to have to coolest cover though? *pout*


Jason (ancatdubh2) | 64 comments WHY YOU NO TRANSLATE BULKAGOV, JAY RUBIN?!?


Jason (ancatdubh2) | 64 comments "Fuck this. I go to Kislovodsk now." (Rubin)


Kate  | 4 comments I am starting with the Burgin/O'Connor this go around - I've never read M&M before and this is the copy I have on my shelf. I may try to find P&V at the library if I have time. . .


Ali | 21 comments Moonbutterfly wrote: "That is good to know. I think it comes down to P&V and Burgin & O’Connor."

That's good, because I have three translations, and those are two of them. I also have the Ginsberg, but though I like the sound of it when I read, and readers have said she most accurately captures the tone and humour of the book, due to its having been translated from a censored text, I refuse to read it first. Whenever I have multiple translations of books (which isn't that often, contrary to what some may think based on my previous comments on this site about my book collection), I always intend to read them all, so I will get to the Ginsberg eventually, just not on my first encounter with this novel because I want to read something uncensored first.
I have no particular allegiance to any translators, P&V included, though because of their supposed fidelity to the original texts (I only say "supposed" because I don't read or speak Russian, so I have to rely on hearsay and reviews from people who know the language to tell me what translation is faithful), I often do end up reading them first, so any translation this group decides on is fine with me.


Mary | 134 comments Mod
I least I have the cool green cover from Ginsberg I suppose...


Stephen M | 50 comments I'm reading the one that penkey read.


Ian Heidin-Seek | 68 comments I'm going to read one with a pretty cover that matches my bookshelves.


Catie (nematome) Oh maaaaaaan. I didn't know that about the MG translation. I thought I was all set! I am not all set.


Mary | 134 comments Mod
Catie wrote: "Oh maaaaaaan. I didn't know that about the MG translation. I thought I was all set! I am not all set."

me too :-\


message 20: by Mary (last edited Jul 26, 2012 07:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 134 comments Mod
For reference:

Mirra Ginsburg Translation (1967)
Ginsburg's translation was translated from a censored Soviet text and is therefore incomplete. Many advised against this translation.




Michael Glenny Translation (1967)
Russian readers claim there are mistakes in the text. Other readers state they prefer this translation, because it "flows" better.




Diana Burgin & Katherine Tiernan O’Connor (1993)
Several literary critics have hailed the Burgin/Tiernan O’Connor translation as the most accurate and complete English translation, particularly when read in tandem with the matching annotations by Bulgakov's biographer, Ellendea Proffer. [Master and Margarita: A Critical Companion by Laura Weeks]





Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky (1997)
Russian readers states this translation sticks more to the original Russian. One criticism is that P&V "doesn't get the humor at all", although technically accurate.




Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Ian wrote: "I'm going to read one with a pretty cover that matches my bookshelves."

And which one would that be? Are you going with earth tones or more vibrant colors?

I'm glad you won't be clashing with your study furniture. That's very important.


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Mary wrote: "I least I have the cool green cover from Ginsberg I suppose..."

You could always make a color copy of the Ginsburg cover and put it over one of the other books..... (Harkening back to when I used to have to make covers out of brown paper bags for school books.)


Mark (markmckeejr) | 37 comments Like Jayne Anne Phillips Lark and Termite!


Jason (ancatdubh2) | 64 comments My library has two translations in circulation: Pevear/Volokhonsky & Burgin/O'Connor. There is already a hold queue on both versions! I've claimed both of them until we decide which one we're reading. I hope this isn't going to happen again where I'll be a month lagged behind the rest of you. :)

Here's a little more info:
Pevear/Volokhonsky
ISBN: 0141180145 (pbk.)
Physical Description: xix, 411 p. ;20 cm.
Publisher: London : Penguin, 1997.

Burgin/O'Connor
ISBN: 0679760806
Physical Description: 372 p. ;21 cm.
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1996.



Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "My library has two translations in circulation: Pevear/Volokhonsky & Burgin/O'Connor. There is already a hold queue on both versions! I've claimed both of them until we decide which one we're readi..."

Jason, I have a feeling that either of these translations will work - they are both based on the complete text, and it may be interesting to compare translations for important passages. I say that you should snag whichever one becomes available first in your library!


Ian Heidin-Seek | 68 comments The MG is closer to the colour of my shelving, but I like the cat in the B&O more. I have bought all of the P&V translations of Dostoevsky and am disappointed that they mightn't have a sense of humour.


Mark (markmckeejr) | 37 comments My To-Get shelf and To-Read shelf are both bulging, but even with the P'n'V edition sitting on the shelf waiting, dang, this B'n'O translation is looking nice, too. A reader/reviewer on Amazon mentioned a specific example on the first page:

B/O: "Give me some Narzan water," said Berlioz.

P/V: "Give us seltzer," Berlioz asked.


According to this reviewer, Narzan is a popular mineral water and so the name brand would've registered with Russian readers, where 'seltzer' sounds much more common.

Makes me curious what other kinds of nuances the B/O edition might have


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
I'm definitely getting the P&V to go along with the B&O that I already have. I have to decide how to handle having two translations while I am reading the first time through. I'm concerned about the sense of humor issues with P&V too, but I figure I can compare both translations and decide which works best.


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
I am laughing at myself, because I was complaining about having too many books on my tbr shelf, and now I am planning to read multiple translations at once. I think I may need some professional help.


Madeleine (titular_line) | 14 comments I was going to ask about the difference in the translations/which version has the best cover kitty and then this thread answered questions I didn't even think to ask yet. Thanks, guys!


Traveller (Moontravlr) | 13 comments Richard wrote: "The only one I've read is the Ginsburg. I want to read the Pevear/Volkhonsky version this go-round."

Halleluya! I have the latter. W00t!


message 32: by Traveller (last edited Jul 27, 2012 10:40AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (Moontravlr) | 13 comments Actually it's a pity about the censorship contained in the Ginsberg, because i actually seem to prefer the tone of the Ginsberg.

Karpelson seems ... let's just say i'm grateful i'm not stuck with that one.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) For those readers who have copies of the censored Ginsberg, would any of you be interested in documenting the manner in which is was censored? Which passages changed, crossed out, etc? This would only be approximate given the distancing of translation but would shed some light on the history of the text. Or perhaps one of the annotated editions by other translators contain this information. Or an on-line source?


Mary | 134 comments Mod
Nathan "N.R." wrote: "For those readers who have copies of the censored Ginsberg, would any of you be interested in documenting the manner in which is was censored? Which passages changed, crossed out, etc? This would..."

The Ginsberg version is the one I own but I'll be picking up a copy of the Pevear/Volkhonsky translation. It will be interesting to see which parts were excluded. I'll try to compare the two, but speedy-reader-Kris will surely get to it before I do!


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) Mary wrote: "The Ginsberg version is the one I own but I'll be picking up a copy of the Pevear/Volkhonsky translation. It will be interesting to see which parts were excluded. I'll try to compare the two, but speedy-reader-Kris will surely get to it before I do!
"


For those savvy about such things, could we create a document or database to which multiple folks could contribute? Some kind of 'annotations regarding censorship'? It would need to include some way to indicate whether it is a clear case of censorship or merely a possible difference of translation.


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Nathan "N.R." wrote: "For those savvy about such things, could we create a document or database to which multiple folks could contribute? Some kind of 'annotations regarding censorship'? It would need to include some way to indicate whether it is a clear case of censorship or merely a possible difference of translation. "

This sounds like it could be a great idea. We could set up a group wiki on a free wiki site, or, if interested members have gmail accounts, we could set up a shared document. (I've only used their version of word before - they also have a spreadsheet version, but I haven't used it so I am not sure how adaptable that would be.) I'll play around with some options, but I am open to recommendations from the group! (I'll also check with my online learning support team at Penn when I get back from vacation to see if they have recommendations.)

I'm also going to check with some professorsI know in Penn's Slavics department to find out whether there are any good annotations that specify what was censored from M&M. I looked in B&O, but they didn't seem to be including that information in their annotations. There is a reference to an article by Douglas Fiene that could be of interest -- it's mentioned on page 243 of The Master and Margarita: A Critical Companion edited by Laura Weeks (see the reference under the background reading folder), and a preview is up under Google Books that includes page 243, so you can look at it there. I'm not sure whether the article translates the passages it is comparing or whether that is all in Russian.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (NathanNRGaddis) "Mirra Ginsburg (Grove Press, 1967) Ginsburg's translation is lively and entertaining, but it was unfortunately made from the 1967 Soviet text without the advantage of the censored sections. As a result, it mirrors the censored version, including deletion of passages about the actions of the secret police and most of Nikanor Ivanovich's dream (Ch. 15)."
http://cr.middlebury.edu/bulgakov/pub...

"A censored version (12% of the text removed and still more changed) of the book was first published in Moscow magazine (no. 11, 1966 and no. 1, 1967).[4] The text of all the omitted and changed parts, with indications of the places of modification, was published on a samizdat basis. In 1967 the publisher Posev (Frankfurt) printed a version produced with the aid of these inserts.

In the Soviet Union, the first complete version, prepared by Anna Saakyants, was published by Khudozhestvennaya Literatura in 1973, based on the version of the beginning of 1940 proofread by the publisher. This version remained the canonical edition until 1989, when the last version was prepared by literature expert Lidiya Yanovskaya based on all available manuscripts."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mast...


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
I just found the Middlebury site, too, Nathan! I'm adding it to the background folder.


Traveller (Moontravlr) | 13 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "For those readers who have copies of the censored Ginsberg, would any of you be interested in documenting the manner in which is was censored? Which passages changed, crossed out, etc? This would..."

Yes, i was thinking along those lines as well. I might actually want to try and get hold of a Ginsberg as well.


Mark (markmckeejr) | 37 comments Kris wrote: "I am laughing at myself, because I was complaining about having too many books on my tbr shelf, and now I am planning to read multiple translations at once. I think I may need some professional help."

This was cracking me up last night as I copied down the examples from the Amazon review! We were just complaining about it, and now we're both thinking of tackling two different copies of the same book. Books make people do strange things, I'm afraid!


Sarah (Warning: Potentially Off-Topic) (mg2001) | 5 comments I'm excited about the Master and Margarita group read, because I've wanted to read this for a while and now I have a good excuse. I get so stressed about translations, though. Today I finally settled on the Burgin & O'Connor. I was leaning towards Ginsburg, but I don't want a censored version.


Jason (ancatdubh2) | 64 comments I might do Burgin/O'Connor, too.


message 43: by Kris (last edited Jul 27, 2012 07:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "This was cracking me up last night as I copied down the examples from the Amazon review! We were just complaining about it, and now we're both thinking of tackling two different copies of the same book. Books make people do strange things, I'm afraid! ."
It's even worse, Mark - I might get Ginsburg too, which will make three editions. Sigh.


Mark (markmckeejr) | 37 comments Kris, Kris, Kris, now you're just being a masochist!

See if you can put each edition in an headlock at your library, Jason!


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Kris, Kris, Kris, now you're just being a masochist!

See if you can put each edition in an headlock at your library, Jason!"


I need an intervention. :(


Mark (markmckeejr) | 37 comments I hereby call this meeting to order. Kris R., it has come to the attention of the court that you have been indulging in an inordinate amount of to-getting. We hereby decree, bearing in mind our word is law: Go forward, and enjoy thyself! Case dismissed!


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "I hereby call this meeting to order. Kris R., it has come to the attention of the court that you have been indulging in an inordinate amount of to-getting. We hereby decree, bearing in mind our wor..."

Let the to-getting commence!!


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Mary and I have received some questions about whether the group will have one official translation prescribed. We've discussed this, and decided that we are more comfortable letting each of you decide which version (or versions) you want to read for the group read. We posted some information on translations in the group description, in which we generally recommend either Burgin & O'Connor or Pevear & Volokhonsky for the complete version or Ginsburg for the censored version, but we are happy for each member to choose whichever translation looks best to them. We think that as along as we're all clear about which version we are reading in the book discussion threads, we should have good discussions about the books - and perhaps multiple versions will lead to some interesting conversations about translation, censorship, etc. We're hoping this sounds ok - any questions or concerns, please let us know!


sckenda (goodreadscomsckenda) I'm thinking of ordering the Glenny translation because it is in the attractive hardback of Everyman's Library, with the red thread book mark. If all things are equal. Somebody stop me if I'm making a mistake. http://www.amazon.com/Margarita-Every...


Kris (krisrabberman) | 313 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "I'm thinking of ordering the Glenny translation because it is in the attractive hardback of Everyman's Library, with the red thread book mark. If all things are equal. Somebody stop me if I'm mak..."

Steve, it's great to have you with us! Re. the Glenny - some links under comments 3, 5, and 6 in this thread may help you to make a decision- they have comparisons of the different translations as well as some background on what they have and what they may be missing. MB also did a great job summarizing some of the views she read while she was researching this: "Michael Glenny Translation (1967)
Russian readers claim there are mistakes in the text. Other readers state they prefer this translation, because it "flows" better."

I think that the excerpts from translations under these comments are really helpful, since you can read them and get a sense of the style and voice in each. It seems that, when reading the censored version, some readers prefer Glenny's style, while others dislike it. Different tastes....

BTW, if you want one of the non-censored editions, that will leave you with Burgin & O'Connor or Pevear & Volokhonsky.


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