Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Translation Wars

Run--do not walk--to your local library or newsstand for the current issue of the New Yorker and turn to the Onward and Upward with the Arts essay: "The Translation Wars: How the race to translate Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky continues to spark feuds, end friendships, and create small fortunes," by editor-in-chief David Remnick. Remnick trashes Constance Garnett, about whom the salient fact is that she engendered a deep love of Russian literature among generations of English-language readers, and parrots the received (though not by many people who are specialists in the field) wisdom about the Pevear/Volokhonsky team being the best thing to happen to Russian literature since sliced bread. (They're not.) I'm still in the middle of the article myself but want to encourage people to rush off and find a copy before the next issue supplants it.

2 comments:

Liz said...

I just noticed a post on the same article - with interesting comments - on languagehat. And another at - here's the direct link to their short review.

Sedulia said...

I read War and Peace in Ann Dunnigan's translation and it felt perfect to me, as if it were written in English. I can't comment on the quality of the translation except that its literary quality was all you could wish for. The more recent ones fall flat in English-- I've been very disappointed.