Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

My recommendation of a translation of The Brothers Karamazov

August 26, 2007

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

Every man reads one book in his life …

July 13, 2007

“Walden is the only book I own, although there are some others unclaimed on my shelves. Every man, I think, reads one book in his life, and this one is mine. It is not the best book I ever encountered, perhaps, but it is for me the handiest, and I keep it about me in much the same way one carries a handkerchief – for relief in moments of defluxion or despair.”

— White in The New Yorker, May 23, 1953