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David Magarshack or Constance Garnett better for Dostoyevsky?

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message 1: by prunelle (new)

prunelle | 1 comments David Magarshack or Constance Garnett better for Dostoyevsky?


message 2: by Eric (new)

Eric (earector) | 5 comments I've read Crime and Punishment translated by both, and prefer Magarshack's translation by a large margin. I'm rereading his translation of Brothers Karamozov now, and really enjoying it.


message 3: by Frankie (last edited Mar 22, 2010 05:16AM) (new)

Frankie (fran_kie) | 37 comments There's quite a debate on this. Joseph Frank, who wrote the acclaimed five-volume biography of Dostoevsky, preferred David Magarshack's translations. Constance Garnett's editions take a lot of flak for being hastily translated, without much regard for the delicacies of idiomatic and elusive phrasing. The most recent translators, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, are winning awards left and right. They spend more time ironing out the inconsistencies and issues between Russian and English. Their translations may seem distasteful if you're a classicist who enjoys the "time capsule" quality of Garnett's diction. Only remember that 19th century English expressions weren't used by any of Dostoevsky's characters. If you're a book collector like me, and you love the smell of ex libris, I suggest you collect Garnett or Magarshack, but read Pevear/Volokhonsky (you won't find any of collectable age).

Pick up a Pevear/Volokhonsky translation and read Richard Pevear's introduction. Towards the end he usually explains a few expressions that were difficult or improperly translated, and why. This is what sold me on their translations.


message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric (earector) | 5 comments @raskolnik: Thanks for the info. I'll have to check out the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations.


message 5: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Henrion Eric wrote: "@raskolnik: Thanks for the info. I'll have to check out the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations."


I've always been real partial toward Garnett, but raskolnik is correct in that the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations should be read. They really are fantastic.


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