For a while now I have been wanting to get more into Russian literature, particularly Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. All I have read before is Crime and Punishment, which I very much want to read again. I have been a little anxious, if truth be told, about finding the right translations of these works. I read all the translation threads that show up on the forums, and I recognize that there will never be a perfect solution to this problem besides learning Russian (or any other language)

So, to try to compare for myself, I just read two different translations of Notes From Underground back to back. First I read the Pevear/Volokhonsky version, then Garnett. The differences I noticed between them are subtle, which is a good thing in my opinion, but it can also be crucial to understanding the nuances of tone and things of that sort. I would say that I enjoyed the P/V version better- it struck me as more "readable" and I also thought I could sense its "Russian" nature better. For instance, an officer is described as imposing due to his "six foot tallness." I like the way that is phrased, it seems to convey the original language used very well. The book also came with notes on various references Dostoevsky makes. These I found very helpful and helped me to better grasp what the author was saying, how, and why. These notes most likely had a significant impact on my preference, which is not making my quest any easier.

The Garnett version seemed, well, dated. This is because it is. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing, the original Russian is dated as well. It is an old book. I felt more like I was reading an old book with Garnett. There is a quote I have seen bouncing around, something like "If readers complain that the Russian greats all sound the same, it is because they are not reading them; they are reading Garnett." This really struck a nerve with me when I read it and made me really want to read the authors themselves. After reading her version of NFU, I have to say that it seems like a faithful version, but I still feel that P/V brought it more to life for me.

In conclusion- I have still not found the answer to the translation question. Has anyone else read these versions, or any others? What are your opinions? And how much sleep is it worth losing over this issue?