NABOKV-L post 0018989, Mon, 21 Dec 2009 23:25:15 -0500

Subject
Translation: a proposal (was QUERY: VN's opinion of Constance
Garnett)
Date
Body
>RE: A subscriber asked me to forward this query to the List,
>especially to those who teach Russian literature in translation: Do
>you agree with VN's assessment of Garnett's translation? Which
>translation of Tolstoy's novel [Anna Karenina] do you recommend
>instead?
>
>To begin with: Recommend to whom? What purpose for?
>
>[EDNOTE. The subscriber wanted to ask the question anonymously. I
>don't know the purpose. -- SES]

Noo. This was a misunderstanding. It was me.

For what purpose? I can't read Russian.

I'm not sure how to apply your method of assessing translations,
which has its limitations, as you note. Some translations read like
translations, if not ponies for students. Others take liberties with
literal meaning but provide distinguished prose and spine tingling
literary experience.

Ten years ago (Fri, 4 Jun 1999) I tried to make a case on this forum
that the ideal translation should provide the original language (with
a transliteration if necessary), a sublinear word-for-word
translation, and on facing pages a literary translation. I suggested
further that literary translations which tend to the literal should
here and there provide tastes of the original rhyme, rhythm, and
style. And free translation so juxtaposed with a word-for-word
translation would no longer be a sin.

I still wish this manner of having the original and (at least) two
translations on facing pages was the standard for translating works
of literature. It still seems obvious to me this is how it should be
done, and I still find it annoying that it isn't.

But for now I just want to know which translation of Anna Karenina to
buy, and I thank Vladimir Mylnikov and Ljuba Tarvi for their help.

Walter Miale

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