Customer Review

245 of 270 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move over, Mrs. Garnett., March 2, 2001
This review is from: Anna Karenina (Hardcover)
Yes, this is the translation to read -- every sentence has been carefully thought through: a translation you could only get from a native-born Russian (Larissa Volokhonskaya) and an English-speaking person (an American, Richard Pevear, her husband) working together, with a native ear for BOTH languages. The prose just flows -- to the point I was hardly are conscious of reading a translation (the highest compliment). My wife (Russian) likes this English-language version so much she has read part of it, first out of curiousity just to see how good a translation can be, then for the pleasure of the English prose. She says Tolstoy in the original is better and since I can read some Russian, I agree. There are some words, expressions that are, after all, untranslatable -- maybe you can find a literally equivalent word, but not an emotionally equivalent one. So study your Russian (I intend to) and maybe someday read the orignial. Meanwhile, there's this. A great classic and a tour de force translation that just rings true on every page.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 16, 2007 8:16:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 16, 2007 8:16:48 AM PDT
skye says:
I dont understand why the top top reviews seem to be for the wrong translation. This version was translated by David Magarshack, not Volokhonskaya and Pevear. Am I missing something here?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 9, 2008 2:56:58 PM PDT
maybe amazon made a mistake and posted their reviews to the wrong edition i have seen that happen before...

Posted on Jul 8, 2008 8:48:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2008 1:54:08 AM PDT
Brad Hoevel says:
If you want the best translation, why not read the Maude. It was authorized by Tolstoy... P/V has been praised really only for their Dostoevksy.

PS... Thomas Gillett's review is actually the Maude translation. It's from the Knopfs Everyman Edition. Everyman uses the Pevear/Volokonsky for Dostoevsky and Chekhov; but not for Tolstoy, Turgenev, or Goncharov.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 9:38:59 AM PDT
What a nest of confusion! Why don't amazon just separate the commenting for the different translations?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2010 9:18:13 AM PST
fennario says:
Translations authorized by the author are merely the ones available at the time. In almost every writer's case, later translators improve enormously on the "authorized" versions, especially because translations become terribly dated in a way that originals just somehow don't. I think the consensus is pretty wide that Pevear and V. are doing the best English versions of Russian novels out there.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2014 4:55:02 PM PDT
AGRayburn says:
Meh. I'm unaware of that consensus. You can't lump all Russian authors together and assign one "best" translator. Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bulgakov, these writers each have such different styles, and Russian is such a difficult language to translate into English, I really think different translators each have their own strengths. P&V do NOT do a great job of Master & Margarita (Bulgakov), on their own, but they do have good notes. When I read that recently, I had 2 translations that I read concurrently. Personally I think their strength is Dostoevsky, a niche that desperately needed to be filled. For me, with Tolstoy, they're not the best or the worst.
All this being said, there are very few of the well known Russian lit. books that aren't worth a second, third or tenth read, so I recommend reading the same book in different translations.
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