My recommendation of a translation of The Brothers Karamazov

My brother-in-law recommended that I read The Brothers Karamazov by the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. Off to the bookstore I went, bought a copy, and proceeded to read it. What I difficult chore it was to read! Every sentence required enormous concentration. But I thought: “This will be good for me. It will make me a better reader.” Besides, I had never read a translation before, so I thought this was the way it is.

A couple weeks later I was talking to a friend about the book and describing what a chore it was to read. She said, “I hope your brother-in-law recommended the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation. It makes all the difference.” In fact, the translation that I had was not the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation. So back to the bookstore I went and picked up the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation. What a remarkable difference! It is so much easier to read and understand.

I learned two lessons from this experience:

  1. “Who” writes a book translation makes a big difference
  2. I recommend reading the version of The Brothers Karamazov that says this: Translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
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