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Customer Review

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful translation - and a beautiful object, 11 Jan. 2008
This review is from: War and Peace (Hardcover)
Don't listen Dr. Clifford - this is a wonderful translation, faithful and fluent. I don't know the Briggs (whose translation is incidentally not exactly 'new'), but the Pevear is quite fabulous.

In criticising repetition, Dr Clifford has entirely missed the point that the repetitions are Tolstoy's, and quite deliberate. It is previous translators who have sought to 'improve' on the original by adding their own variations. Clifford makes the same old error. Pevear does not.

I am afraid I find Dr Clfford's claim that Pevear's English is poor incomprehensible, as if said of a different translation altogether. This is a wonderfully accessible translation of a nineteenth century novel, which also manages to feel true to its period and to avoid anacronisms.

The use of French in the text is also true to the original. In his own editions/revisions, this is how Tolstoy started and what he came back to. Pevear includes full translations in footnotes (of a perfectly legible size). Nor, incidentally, is the French especially taxing. Why is the French there ? Because that's how Russians of a certain milieu spoke (and, some would say, thought and dreamed) in the Napoleonic era. Why has Pevear not removed it ? Why on earth would he want to ?

But don't take my word for it; read Orlando Figes online on the Pevear translation in the New York Review of Books - the same Orlando Figes who wrote the foreword to the Briggs edition.

Finally - the Pevear is still in hardback, and is a fittingly beautiful and pleasing object in its own right.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Jun 2008 14:11:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jun 2008 14:25:49 BDT
Good review -- I am a big fan of Pevear and Volokhonsky. I thought their translation of Anna Karenina was sensational. This sounds like another great job.

P.S. Here is that NY Review article: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20810

Posted on 16 Mar 2010 12:16:56 GMT
T. Graham says:
NB this review ('A wonderful translation - and a beautiful object'), which has been moved, relates to the Pevear translation, not the Briggs.

Posted on 16 Mar 2010 19:20:02 GMT
Ingrid Burt says:
Good Review T. Graham. I have swapped my Briggs translation for the Pevear and Volokhonsky.
Thank you. Have you written any other reviews? I did find this one particularly helpful

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jun 2011 18:22:13 BDT
I do agree. Look out for their translations of the cossacks!
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T. Graham
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Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 34,973