The Brothers Karamazov. Translated from the Russian of. Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Constance Garnett. The Lowell Press. New York. They’re reading Constance Garnett.” .. The Pevear-Volokhonsky translation of “ The Brothers Karamazov” won almost uniformly positive. Translated by Constance Garnett. First published in This web edition published by [email protected] Last updated Wednesday.

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In that time, they have translated much of Russian literature as we know it. Until their translation of The Brothers Karamazov was published inkarammazov English-speaking world got its Dostoevsky their preferred spelling—with one y from the great British translator Constance Garnett.

Though her translations of Turgenev and Chekhov are generally considered virtuosic, her versions of Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Tolstoy have drawn criticism for Victorian elision. But with Constance Garnett it becomes a safe bland script: Pevear, who is sometimes drawn into the online jousting, ksramazov apologizes for erring on the side of the unfamiliar sounding over muting the original.

Inthe translators were propelled to commercial success when Oprah Winfrey chose their translation of Anna Karenina for her book club, making the year-old brohters an instant best seller. In addition to translating Russian contemporary poets, Volokhonsky, who attended Yale Divinity School, has translated theological texts into Russian. They have two trilingual children. The interview took place in January over two gatnett afternoons in their ground-floor apartment in the constznce arrondissement of Paris, where they have lived since Volokhonsky is warm and reserved.

She has strong opinions, sometimes delivered bluntly. She accepts praise with sincere embarrassment and pleasure. She speaks with a thick Russian accent, which adds to her considerable charm. Pevear looks like a New England ship captain, bearded and with an excellent head of hair.

He has a slow, easygoing manner which belies his precise tastes. He enjoys puns and repartee.

In the beginning, the couple took turns speaking, listening respectfully in mortuary silence as the other spoke. At the end of the interview, which, like a nine-hundred-page Russian novel, seemed to contain all subjects simultaneously, we opened a half bottle of champagne. We actually met because of Russian literature. I had written an essay on the Soviet dissident and writer Andrei Sinyavsky. It was published in The Hudson Review in I remarked ironically that the poet Yevtushenko was giving readings in Madison Square Garden—among his translators were John Updike and Richard Wilbur—while Sinyavsky was in a Soviet labor camp.


I received a letter from Irene Kirk, a professor at the University of Connecticut. She had helped him and his family leave for France. When I arrived in the United States, I stayed for a while with this professor, and she started matchmaking. Succeeded after a while. Irene told me there was someone I should meet, and she invited me down to Connecticut.

I was very surprised. I lived in Maine and worked in a boatyard as a woodworker—boats were still made of wood back then. I took a little time off and drove down. It happened that Larissa had to renew her visa, which meant she had left for England just as I arrived.

When I moved to New York, I took up cabinetmaking. We were neighbors with a wonderful, crotchety woman, an old translator from Russian, Mirra Ginsburg. She was a very good translator. When we started to try to translate The Brothers Karamazovwe showed her samples.

Constance Garnett

And she said one phrase that sent me through the roof. She repeated it several times—she said, I adore the smell of wood shavings. When we first told her we were translating The Brothers Karamazovshe said, Oh, Dostoevsky, I hope you correct his awful style.

I had read it for a summer course I took at Harvard in Russian literature. I brohhers to have a wonderful professor, Vladimir Markov.

The course transformed me. I loved these books. I started reading it. Then Larissa got curious. I had my Russian edition of Dostoevsky, and I decided to read along.

Dostoevsky had always really gripped me.

But now I started actually looking at the language. I said, How is Magarshack going to translate this? The jokes, or the unusualness, just disappeared. Something tame, not right. The meaning is there, but the style, the tone, the humor are gone.

Constance Garnett – Wikipedia

Miusov has just come from abroad. This is the kind of thing I began to notice throughout the novel. Sometimes three times, five times on a page. And I discovered during our work together on Dostoevsky that he was not a brooding, obsessed man, but a very playful, cosntance spirit.


You see it in his style. The style of Dostoevsky is extremely varied. He brothegs practice writing pages in different voices. He shows characters through gaenett voice, through the way they use or misuse language.

He just happens to live in the town where the novel is set. He got interested in the story of the Karamazov brothers and the murder of their father and wanted to record it. I quite agree that it is superfluous, but since it is already written, let it stand. So the light suddenly went on. There was something to be done there.

So we prepared four passages representative of conshance different kinds of narrative and dialogue. We sent these samples to five of the most prominent Dostoevsky scholars, and they all sent us very positive responses.

The Quiet Rebels of Russian Translation | Literary Hub

We had this package of samples and letters, and I started mailing it out to major publishers, who all turned it down. His assistant called us on the phone from Constajce. He said they wanted to publish it, and with regard to an advance, asked, How does a thousand dollars sound?

I said, Very small. But he actually called the next day constanve said, How does six thousand sound? I said, Much better than one thousand. They put everything they had into it. They really did a beautiful job.

They made a maramazov kit—I wish I could show it to you. It was a double portfolio with samples and letters. They sent it all over.

They just read the press kit. My favorite one was from the Wichita Eaglewhich did a full-page review, with a full-page photograph. With his big beard and scowling face. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Article continues after advertisement. Paris Review The Cohstance Review is a literary magazine featuring original writing, art, brotgers in-depth interviews with famous writers. Next Article The Staff Shelf: Win a Lit Hub tote bag!

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