War and Peace War and Peace discussion


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message 1: by Eva (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eva With the two new translations out, does anyone have a preference? I read an old translation from the public library the first time, but am contemplating being more choosey this time around when I read it again.

I've heard Briggs is easy to read, but I don't want to lose the author's voice at the expense of making it digestible for the masses.


message 2: by Alden (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:10PM) (new) - added it

Alden I favor the new Pevear/Volokhonsy translation based on their previous translations of Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment. The books feel fresher in their hands than other translations I had read previously. They'll be on NPR in the morning 10/19, I hear, talking about their new translation.

message 3: by Eva (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eva Thanks! I'll definitely check out the NPR show.

message 4: by Lavina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new) - added it

Lavina I just saw Pevear and Volokhonsky speak about their translation, and they basically said that translators fall into two camps: those who wish to "update" the language and those who wish to remain faithful to the original. Pevear and Volokhonsky fall firmly into the latter camp. Volokhonsky argued (and I think she's totally right) that language does indeed change, but the changes happen slowly, so trying to make Tolstoy sound "fresh" or "modern" ends up making it sound ridiculous, completely off the mark. She kept saying, "Just try and update Jane Austen."

If it's the author's voice you want, stick with this pair. They painstakingly attempt to convey exactly what Tolstoy was doing with his writing and use of language (and Chekhov and Dostoevsky and Gogol, et al., for that matter). They don't even use words that weren't in use in Tolstoy's day -- whenever Pevear comes up with the English word he wants to use, he checks the OED first to make sure the word was in use, in that sense, at the time.

message 5: by Liza (new) - added it

Liza For me, one of the most important issues is that I read an unabridged version. If you set out to read War and Peace you know what you're getting into. Why would you read an abridged version? I'm reading the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation because I loved their work on Master and Margarita. I think the pairing of a native English-speaking poet and a native Russian-speaker works wonders.

message 6: by Dora (new) - added it

Dora I agree that it's important to read unabridged versions, but the quality of the translation is also critical. Thanks to everyone above who provided information about translations. Here's a link to the Pevear and Volokhonsky interview referenced above. I also found story about the new translation of the first edition of War and Peace. It includes a comparison of the same scene in translation.

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