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The NOOK Book (eBook) of the Anna Karenina (Pevear/Volokhonsky Translation ) by Leo Tolstoy at Barnes & Noble. FREE Shipping on $ Do we need another translation of Anna Karenina? Pevear and Volokhonsky talk about the “sucking” of Levin’s boot, and a snipe which. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina doesn’t seem to be that exciting and entertaining. . I read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation a couple of years ago, and just.

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D o we really need another English translation of Anna Karenina? There is no English translation of the Academy of Sciences edition of the novel currently in print.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

This version contained a host of small differences from earlier versions; these may not amount to much individually, but cumulatively they add up to a new reading. And just as conductors and performers can produce revelatory new interpretations after intense listening, so translators have the potential to allow the author to speak more clearly.

Take chapter eight of Part Six. By this stage of the novel, Anna and Vronsky have returned from their sojourn in Italy and have retreated to the country, having been ostracised by St Petersburg high society.

An Anna Is an Anna Is an Anna – Los Angeles Review of Books

Before they start out, Tolstoy lovingly describes what they are all wearing. The old world aristocrat Stiva Oblonsky, by contrast, looks like a tramp: How does the translator cope with porshni and podvertkithe two words Tolstoy uses to complete his vivid picture of Oblonsky’s scruffy apparel? vlookhonsky

Constance Garnettwhose translation of the novel was published inhas him shod in “rough leggings and spats”, the latter word being an abbreviation for “spatterdashes”, either short cloth gaiters covering the instep and ankle, or long leather ones. Brogues were originally rough leather peasant shoes of Gallic origin whose perforations allowed the water to drain while the wearer crossed bogs, but it is surely the smart modern shoes with ornamental perforated patterns that will be summoned up in the reader’s imagination first.


Puttees, which derive from the Hindi word for band or bandage, are strips of cloth wound round the leg from ankle to knee for protection, and have an undeniable association with the Raj.

In keeping with the central ideas Tolstoy puts forward in the novel about the importance of Russia’s relationship to the land, it is not without significance that Oblonsky is wearing peasant footwear. One could never imagine the debonair Vronsky doing the same.

Porshni denote primitive shoes made out of single pieces of leather which are drawn tight with a cord threaded through holes along the edges, like Native American moccasins.

Because they are light and dry out quickly, they are well suited for tramping quietly through soggy marshes in search of snipe. Do such details matter? Tolstoy certainly thought so. After helping him prepare the text for publication in book form inNikolay Strakhov recalled his friend staunchly defending the slightest expression, and opposing even the most innocuous changes.

Strakhov realised that “in spite of all the apparent carelessness and unevenness of his style”, Tolstoy had “thought over every word, every turn of speech no less than the most fastidious poet. Take the opening sentence of Part 2, chapter 20, which is set outside St Petersburg, where the Russian army is garrisoned during the summer months.

In one recent translation we read: Although literally correct, it is the figurative meaning of the Russian verb “to stand” which is clearly intended: The English-speaking world owes Constance Garnett a great debt for producing a translation of Anna Karenina which has stood the test of time and set a high benchmark for future versions.

But her remark that “Tolstoy’s simple style goes straight into English without any trouble” is problematic when one remembers the thorny challenge posed by the many sentences in the book which are over words long. Then there are the clotted sentences brimming with participles, gerunds and subordinate clauses, and others with clusters of adjectives strung together like beads, not to mention Tolstoy’s deliberate and unorthodox use of repetition. Tolstoy’s limpid simplicity is deceptive, and his artistry of a high order, despite his apparent artlessness and eschewal of traditional rhetorical devices.


The Soviet writer Yury Volokhonsjy once noted perceptively that “Tolstoy’s style is an expression of his rebellion against all norms and conventions”. Take Part 6, chapter 10, where Tolstoy deliberately uses variants of the same verb chmokat to describe the sucking sound made by Levin’s heel as he extracts it from the bog, and the “scape” call made by the common snipe when flushed, typically described in contemporary Russian ornithology as chvek or zhvyak.

Garnett describes the sound of Levin’s heel “squelching” but then talks about the “whir” of a snipe, while Louise and Aylmer Maude describe the “smacking sound” of Levin’s heel and the “cry” of a snipe. Pevear and Volokhonsky talk about the “sucking” of Levin’s boot, and a snipe which “creeched”, and Zinovieff and Hughes follow the “squelching” of Levin’s heel with the “croak” of a snipe.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy | : Books

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