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Crime and Punishment: A New Translation Hardcover – November 21, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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“A rare Dostoevsky translation…a major contribution to the dissemination and understanding of the Russian novel.”
- William Mills Todd III, Harvard University
“These are the voices of Crime and Punishment, in all their original, dazzling variety: pensive, urgent, defiant, and triumphant. This new translation by Michael Katz revives the intensity Dostoevsky’s first readers experienced, and proves that Crime and Punishment still has the power to surprise and enthrall us.”
- Susan McReynolds, Northwestern University
“Mesmerizingly good…the best, truest translation of Dostoevsky’s masterpiece into English. It’s a magnificent, almost terrifying achievement of translation, one that makes its predecessors, however worthy, seem safe and polite.”
- Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly
About the Author
Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and many other novels.
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‘What do you think?’ Razmumikhin shouted, raising his voice even more. ‘You think it’s because they’re lying? Nonsense! I like it when people lie! Lying is man’s only privilege over all other organisms. If you lie- you get to the truth! Lying is what makes me a man. Not one truth has ever been reached without lying fourteen times or so, maybe a hundred and fourteen, and that’s honourable in its way; well, but we can’t even lie with our minds! Lie to me, but in your own way, and I’ll kiss you for it. Lying in one’s own way is almost better than telling the truth in someone else’s way; in the first case you’re a man, and in the second – no better than a bird. The truth won’t go away, but life can be nailed shut; there are examples. (Pevear/Volokhonsky)
The Oliver Ready translation reads:
‘Now what are you thinking?’ cried Razumikhin, raising even more. ‘That it’s their lies I can’t stand? Nonsense! I like it when people lie. Telling lies is humanity’s sole privilege over other organism. Keep fibbing and you’ll end up with the truth! I’m only human because I lie. No truth’s ever been discovered without fourteen fibs along the way, if not one hundred and fourteen, and there’s honour in that. But our lies aren’t even our own! Lie to me by all means, but make sure it’s your own, and then I’ll kiss you. After all, lies of your own are almost better than someone else’s truth: in the first case you’re human; in the second you’re just a bird! The truth won’t run away, but life just might – wouldn’t be the first time. I mean, just look at us now.
I think it will be useful to quote this new 2018 Michael Katz translation of the same passage. Katz’s appears in pg. 223 (Ready’s in page 188):
‘What do you think?’ Cried Razumikhin, raising his voice even more. Do you think I’m not in favour of their telling lies? Rubbish! I love it when they tell lies! Lying is a privilege exclusive to humans among all other beings. It’s by lying that one arrives at the truth! I tell lies; therefore, I’m human. We haven’t arrived at any truths without having uttered nonsense beforehand fourteen or so times, perhaps even one hundred and fourteen times, and that’s honourable in its own way; well, we can’t talk nonsense by relying on our own intelligence! You talk nonsense, but if it’s your own I’ll kiss you for it. To talk one’s own nonsense is almost better than spouting someone else’s truth. In the first case, you’re a human being; but in the second, you’re only a parrot! Truth doesn’t vanish, but life can be beaten to a pulp; There have been examples. Well, where are we now?'
Ultimately, the reader has to decide for himself which style he enjoys more. Ready’s version has a table of chronological events and a fresh, inspiring introduction that will help the first-time reader understand and appreciate the context of ‘Crime and Punishment’. But like many previous translations, Ready omits the full names of places. For example, at page 3 he uses ‘S____y Lane’ whereas Katz spells it ‘Stolyarnnyi Lane’, and he uses ‘Kokushin Bridge’ instead of Ready’s ‘K____n Bridge’; but Ready provides the explanation and full version in the end-notes. Ready has many pages of helpful explanatory notes whereas Katz does not.
I had a chance to borrow this book (translated by Michael Katz) from a local library and am reading it.
This book (translated by Michael Katz) is the best one if you don't know Russian. It is clearly readable and understandable in comparison with the others.
Regarding to a word of "sublet", let me write the sentence (translated by Katz): "...his tiny room, which he sublet from some tenants who lived in ..." This sentence is OK. This sentence is exactly against one reviewer's complaint of "he sublets his room from his landlady"
I found Katz's vocabulary to be clear and direct. I didn't stumble over 19th century obscure vocabulary.
The book makes me want to explore other Russian authors and Russian topics, such as serfdom.