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Thread: Is Garnett's translation really that bad?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Is Garnett's translation really that bad?

    I'm very particular when it comes to translation, but as it is, I am constrained by the necessicity of economy, and the cheapest translation of Anna available in my hometown is Garnett's. First of all, I hated her treatment of Dostoevsky. Her translation of The Brother's Karamazov is devoid of the primal, and intense quality, which I expected to find in a Dostoevsky book. I wonder if the same problem run through her translation of Anna

  2. #2
    Jealous Optimist Dori's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    I wouldn't say so.
    com-pas-sion (n.) [ME. & OFr. <LL. (Ec.) compassio, sympathy < compassus, pp. of compati, to feel pity < L. com-, together + pali, to suffer] sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help; deep sympathy; pity

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  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Worst translation EVER.

    My boyfriend bought me the Barnes and Noble edition of The Idiot, Anna Karenina, and War and Peace. They were all translated by Garnett, and they were all unreadable.

    I only managed to gnaw through The Idiot, and 2/3 of War and Peace because I was in China for a month and had a lot of time on my hands. But when my boyfriend discussed the main theme of The Idiot with me, I realized I picked up on virtually nothing (he read the book in Russian). It wasn't until I found an old copy of Anna Karenina, translated by Malcolm Cowley, that I realized just what i was missing. Suddenly I understood why Tolstoy is one of the greatest novelist, if not the greatest. If it wasn't that it's like such a sin to burn books, I would burn the Garnett translations because I don't want to pass them along to anyone else and they certainly don't deserve a spot on my bookshelf. I plan on rereading The Idiot and War and Peace after I'm done with Anna Karenina.

  4. #4
    Oh crap. I just finished with the Garnett version. I didn't think it was too terribly bad but I wouldn't know.

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