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Group Reads Archive - 2013 > The Brothers Karamazov: Best Translations - Background & Resources - Schedule

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message 1: by Amalie (new)

Amalie  | 650 comments Mod
Here is the place you can discuss any background and resource material on The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky which you think may be helpful during the reading.

Please provide spoiler warnings when appropriate.


Reading Schedule

Book 1 - March 15-18
Book 2 - March 19-25
Book 3 - March 26-31
Books 4 & 5 - April 01-06
Books 6 & 7 - April 07-12
Book 8 - April 13-16
Book 9 - April 17-20
Book 10 -April 21-24
Book 11 -April 25-28
Books 12 & Epilogues - April 29- May 02



message 2: by Amalie (new)

Amalie  | 650 comments Mod
I came upon these and thought it was really quite interesting.

1. Dostoevsky had planned The Brothers Karamazov as the first part in a two-part novelistic project. By the time he began writing the novel, he was already a famous author whose opinions were courted by aristocrats, politicians, and literati alike. The two-part novel project was to be Dostoevsky's response to the burning questions of the time, his version of What is to be done? (1862), the title of an influential revolutionary novel written by a contemporary, Nikolai Chernychevsky. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin...

2. This plot serves as the basic architecture for Dostoevsky's philosophy, touching on all the Really Big Questions. Do we have free will? Does God exist? Why do human beings have to suffer? What is the nature of human nature? Are there limits to human reason? Are we bound by moral laws? How do we achieve happiness?


Narrator · An unnamed, first-person narrator who acts as a storyteller, relating events in which he plays no part. The narrator frequently refers to himself as “I,” and his erratic voice leaves a noticeable sardonic mark on an otherwise serious novel.

Point of view · The point of view shifts between characters, including Alyosha, Ivan, Dmitri, and the narrator himself.

Tone · The narrator’s tone is one of serious comedy. He takes his story seriously and comprehends the importance of the questions it raises, but nevertheless writes with a warm linguistic inventiveness that sometimes masks the coldness of his subject.




Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)

The epigraph echoes the elder Zosima's teachings. He cites this particular passage from the New Testament's Gospel of John to suggest that suffering should not be the cause of our rejection of God, but an avenue into faith (6.1.14). In other words, suffering – particularly the suffering of innocents – may cause us to doubt the existence of a God who is just and all-powerful. But Zosima argues that suffering is necessary; it is the "seed" that can produce the "fruit" of a greater, a more robust faith. Through suffering we lose our pride and conceit; we become humble, and, in our humility, we are able to empathize with all human beings because we no longer consider ourselves superior to them. This empathy, or love, as Zosima stresses, connects us to the greater mystery of God's love.

In some sense, the novel is a test of what happens when suffering is sown in the fields of skepticism or faith, to stick to the gardening metaphor. If you are a skeptic like Ivan, suffering results in madness. If you are a man of faith, as Dmitri becomes at the end of the novel, suffering is a source of spiritual strength and regeneration.


message 3: by Amalie (new)

Amalie  | 650 comments Mod
I'm not sure how much group reading I'll be able to do since I've already begun reading "Quiet Flows the Don" but I'm a fan of D. so I'll sure join discussion whenever I can.

As for translation, I'd stick with P/V.

Now, I want someone to lead the discussion. please respond here. All you have to do is to open the threads on time and keep the reading going. I hope all the voters will join. I don't like to see what happened to "Poems of Akhmatova" happening again.

So start!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Just like the old times :) I've read it last year but I would love to join a discussion.


Amalie wrote: "Point of view · The point of view shifts between characters, including Alyosha, Ivan, Dmitri, and the narrator himself...."

I found this:
*spoiler*
Use of Narrative Voice and Language in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Crime & Punishment http://voices.yahoo.com/use-narrative...


message 5: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6 comments I've already read the book, but it is my favorite Dostoevsky book and a favorite book in general so I will be happy to join the discussion. :)


message 6: by Fatin (new)

Fatin (fatin-) | 5 comments I started the book day before yesterday and I'm just ending book 2 right now! I would say I'm going to wait for everybody to catch up but I don't think I can hold myself back! It's just so good.

But however, I really want to discuss The Grand Inquisitor chapter. I'm not sure I fully understood parts of it. I feel like you need to know Christianity to understand these parts and I don't know a lot about it. The parts I did understand though, they were mind blowing.


message 7: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6 comments Fatin wrote: "I started the book day before yesterday and I'm just ending book 2 right now! I would say I'm going to wait for everybody to catch up but I don't think I can hold myself back! It's just so good.

..."

When I first read it I finished it in about 5 days. I just could not function properly until I finished the whole book, and then it staid in my head for a long time. I still find my self remembering some parts vividly. The Grand Inquisitor is certainly one of these parts.


message 8: by Fatin (new)

Fatin (fatin-) | 5 comments Could I skip book 6, about the Elder Zosima? I've read half of it, and he just bores me.


message 9: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6 comments Well, that part of his story was very interesting to me, and it dose fit in the overall story. Don't skip it, but maybe take a break so as to let all of his ideas sink in better.


message 10: by B. P. (new)

B. P. Rinehart (ken_moten) | 59 comments Just finished reading the book Feb. 1st but I will drop in for a discussion or two. The ending of the last say third of the book is what is sticking out to me most since I read it. Especially the epilogue...Aloysha is the amazing by that point, would have loved to see another novel with him in it.


message 11: by Apollo's Crow (new)

Apollo's Crow (apolloscrow) | 7 comments I read this long ago in the Garnett version and loved it, but I've been meaning to read the P/V translation. I think this is the only major Dostoevsky work that I haven't read in the newer translation. I'll go to the library tomorrow to pick it up. Looking forward to it!


message 12: by D.j. (new)

D.j. Lang | 12 comments I have the David McDuff translation (Penguin Classics). Does anyone know how this compares to the other translations?


message 13: by Amalie (new)

Amalie  | 650 comments Mod
D.j. wrote: "I have the David McDuff translation (Penguin Classics). Does anyone know how this compares to the other translations?"

Pevear and Volokhonsky are supposedly the ones that translate closest to the original Russian. Other translators may be more lively (I don't know), but if those passages were not lively in Dostoevsky's original, then it is no flaw for them to not be lively in a translation.

For The Brothers K. P&V have most of the glory these days. I found David McDuff not so good for "Crime and Punishment". But I wouldn't discount the updated Penguins - David McDuff and Robert Maguire just avoid the old Penguins - David Magarshack.


message 14: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Waggoner (crazybass33) | 3 comments I have found the P&V translations to be accurate and exciting compared to the Penguins - great for all of Dostoevsky's books.


message 15: by Marie (new)

Marie | 43 comments I usually read the Constance Garnett versions because I get the free e-book versions. It's a little disheartening to hear all the bashing of Garnett version. The English speaking world fell in love with the Russian classics thanks to her so if it was good enough for our elders, then when why it's not good enough for us?


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Marie wrote: "I usually read the Constance Garnett versions because I get the free e-book versions. It's a little disheartening to hear all the bashing of Garnett version. The English speaking world fell in love..."

I do not that the other translations of this are bad, just that Pevear and Volokhonsky's are just better, at least that's what they say but personally I've tried like you others including Garnett (Anna Karanina) and it was all good.

I think everyone should stick with the one they like the best. That'll be the best translation.


message 17: by David (new)

David | 3 comments The Garnett translations are not perfect, but they are not nearly as bad as they are made out to be. P & V are extremely overrated--their team translation technique produces prose that is often deaf to the subtle intonations of the original. Their Tolstoy is particularly bad; they seem to have vastly underestimated the degree of nuance in his deceptively simple language. More to the point, for BK, I recommend the Norton Critical Edition, which is Garnett's translation, substantially revised (and improved) by Ralph Matlaw.


message 18: by Apollo's Crow (new)

Apollo's Crow (apolloscrow) | 7 comments Translation is tricky business, balancing accessibility and accuracy. I certainly would never bash Garnett - she is pretty much singly responsible for bringing Russian lit to English-speakers. And her's is the voice I grew up reading.

But reading the Pevear/Volokhonsky version of Crime and Punishment profoundly illuminated that book for me. I do not know the Russian language, but I know Fyodor well enough, and they caught him. Garnett's narrative voice has long been a comfort for me, but truth is, it does not really change from author to author - reading her Dostoevsky feels much like reading her Tolstoy, a criticism Nabokov is famous for first observing.

I loved Garnett's C & P when I first read it, based on the strength of the novel itself. But once I read the newer P/V translation, I realized what I had been missing. It was a richer experience. New subtleties and language shone through, and the author's guts were laid bare. This could just have been due to my own growth between readings, but I think a modern reader will get a lot more out of the newer P/V translations, at least for Dostoevsky. I'm already almost done with Book 1 of Brothers K, and it's brilliant. Just my $0.02.


message 19: by Dave (new)

Dave | 17 comments Marie, I seem to recall that Hemmingway recommended Constance Garnett's translations. Apart from hunting, fishing and bullfighting, if it's good enough for Papa it's good enough for me.


message 20: by John (new)

John Macdonell | 2 comments I have the Andrew MacAndrew translation. I believe he departs from the Russian at times to give an equivalent English expression instead- striving for a more natural feel. Has anyone here read the MacAndrew translation? what is your opinion of him?


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