Sunday, September 03, 2006

Crime and Punishment - English translations

There are a number of English translations of Crime and Punishment. The best known are:

Constance Garnett - The Classic Translation
David McDuff
Jessie Coulson
Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky
Joakim Ivarson
Sidney Monas

But there are, as far as I could tell, no scholarly and detailed discussions of English translations to find on the Internet. What I found were informal comments by lay people who had read a particular translation of C&P and had something to say.

For example:

Nick, A reviewer, 06/10/2006
About this translation...
Yes, yes - this book is definitely an incredible experience for anyone intelligent enough to grasp its...subtleties. ...Now, I for one am NOT a huge fan of translated works, yet a friend of mine suggested I try C&P translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky and I was blown away. If you have the inclination to tackle this masterpiece, do not waste your time with any other translation. This version of C&P does not try to embellish or compromise the original Russian or the style of the author, yet still remains engrossing and fluid with footnotes for all the little things a non-student of Dostoevsky's Petersburg would need to recognise and understand to grasp a number of the book's more veiled notions. Good luck and enjoy to anyone wishing to read this novel - it will open your eyes in some way, shape or form. ---(from Barnes and Noble)

Reviewer: vlady10
By far the BEST TRANSLATION of one of the true masterpieces, 2 Oct 2003

I read the Wordsworth Classics translation of Crime and Punishment when I was 16 and thought it was awful. I could not understand why this book was considered such a masterpiece. Afterwards I read the Penguin translation by David McDuff. It was much better. A good read, and I realised the importance of a good translation. Then I came across the Vintage edition by Richard Pevear. Its brilliant!! By far the best. The Penguin edition by comparison is stilted... and the language is quite dated. Pevear's translation reads like a modern novel, and you feel the passion, the darkness, the cerebral torments of Dostoevsky's characters. Its impossible to hype this book enough. It is quite simply one of the greatest novels ever written and this translation does it justice. Most bookstores will have numerous copies of the Penguin edition. Ignore it, and get hold of the Vintage one. Its miles better!

Reviewer: Martin (Manchester, England)
Make sure you only buy this translation, 23 Aug 2006

You probably know all about the general storylines and themes of this book, and how it delves into just about every area of human life from the existence of God to alcoholism... So I'll just speak of the translation. This is the ONLY English translation worth buying, it is poetic, fluid, and at times even lyrical but is always faithful to Dostoevsky's original. You can only really appreciate this novel in English through this translation. (This is the Coulson translation) (These last two are from Amazon, I think)


(P&V translation)
The best [translation of Crime and Punishment] currently available. An especially faithful re-creation with a coiled-spring kinetic energy, Don't miss it. Washington Post Book World

This fresh, new translation provides a more exact, idiomatic, and contemporary rendition of the novel that brings Fyodor Dostoevsky's tale achingly alive. It succeeds beautifully. San Francisco Chronicle

Reaches as close to Dostoevsky's Russian as is possible in English. The original's force and frightening immediacy is captured. The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation will become the standard English version. Chicago Tribune

Reviewer: Lindsey Pilcher
A review by a realist, Jun 2 2004

I'd first like to correct an error from a previous review. The translator is not Constance Garnett; it is one Andrew MacAndrew (tragic name, I know), and the prose is snappy and completely understandable. I was surprised by how informal the writing was at times, and I think the translator probably captured the style, although I can't be sure because I don't know Russian. As for the actual book, the material presented, the characters developed and the themes explored, this book is really good. But not perfect. ( Canada)

If any of you have any scholarly info on these or other English translations I'd really appreciate it. the teach :)

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