What are your thoughts on the Pevear and
Volokhonsky translation of Tolstoy’s
War and Peace?
I decided about a year ago that I’d like to re-read Tolstoy’s War and Peace every summer (this post may help to explain such madness). The first two times I read the almighty tome, I picked up the Anthony Briggs translation that my grandmother gave me for Christmas when I was fifteen years old. And I absolutely loved it.
Perhaps I didn’t enjoy the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation because…
- I found the writing awkward. It didn’t run smoothly and there were very few passages I felt like underlining, bookmarking or annotating.
- Anthony Briggs made it fun to read. I wasn’t finding this fun at all.
- It didn’t have the same magic or beauty that Briggs conveys.
- The ‘peace’ parts were nowhere near as engaging as Briggs makes them. Where was the exploration of ordinary life that I looked forward to?
- The French dialogue is kept, meaning you need to flick back and forth to find out what’s going on if you don’t speak the language (particularly tricky on a Kindle).
- Who on earth addresses a man as “my gentle”?!