As is evident from my ‘Currently Reading’ list, I’ve given up trying to read one book at a time. Making steady – sorry, slow – progress on Anna Karenina. The edition I own is the Constance Garnett translation. I hadn’t thought all that deeply about translations before, but now I’m curious about the Pevear-Volokhonsky. Here’s a question (or three) for the Russian-lit junkies out there: is it worth reading both? Are the two translations very different? Most importantly, though, which is the best out there?

This morning, I picked up The Canterbury Tales again, and I’m laughing my way through Chaucer’s witty verses. The Steinbeck is going to stay on my shelf until I have a full day to myself; The Pearl is a mere 96 pages, so I want to read the entire thing in one sitting. As for Soul Mountain, it’s quite a light book, so I read it on trains. That just about sums up what I’m reading at the moment.

I’ve been wanting to get started on the World Citizen project, but haven’t yet had time to visit the library. Well,  that, and I have nine overdue books under my name. Not sure where I’ll start, but it’s a toss-up between Geraldine Brook’s Nine Parts of Desire (I’m curious as to whether her non-fiction is as poorly written as her fiction) and City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, Adam LeBor and From the Boer War to the Cold War: Essays on 20th Century Europe by A J P Taylor. I am also very intrigued by every other title on my list – I was about to name one, but I run wild like a kid in a candy store when it comes to picking books.


12 thoughts on “Thoughts

  1. I prefer Brooks’ non-fiction, and then her early fiction to her latest. I quite liked Year of Wonders, while People of the Book I thought resoundingly average and at times false.

    1. I haven’t read March, but I found Year of Wonders rather mediocre, and People of the Book awkward and disappointing. Glad to hear her non-fiction is better.
      Rebecca – burn out sounds like what I’m going through! I really should stop watching ‘America’s Next Top Model’, and use that time to read, instead of cramming books into the early hours of the morning :)

  2. Tuesday, I definitely recommend the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation over the Garnett. I read the first 350 pages in Garnett before starting over with the Pevear/Volokhonsky. The difference was unbelievable. Of course the story is the same, but language makes such a difference. And this husband/wife, English/Russian team is the best out there for Russian. I highly recommend ditching the Garnett and moving to the other!

    In any case, however, an astounding, beautiful book! One of my favorites! Don’t give up!

    1. Trevor – Oh no, I was half-afraid it would come to this. If I begin the Pevear-Volokhonsky, I’ll probably never return to the Garnett, so I think I’ll finish reading the copy I have now… and I’ll try the Pevear another time.

  3. I really enjoyed City of Oranges when I read it for World History, but I never could get into any of Brook’s books. I try checking one of them out of the library every so often but they all just wind up going right back. As for translations of Anna Karenina, I would recommend the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. That’s the one I have and I absolutely adore it.

    1. Christina – I’m looking forward to reading City of Oranges; we only had select Modules for Modern History (not sure if that’s the same as your World History or not) so I have a terribly stilted knowledge of the modern world, hahah. That’s why I’ve chosen to sort of focus on the Middle East for this challenge :)
      Got any other recommendations for me?

  4. 1) I’ve read both the Garnett and P&V translations of AK. P&V is better-it feels more Russian (I’ve also read excerpts in the original).

    2) “Geraldine Brook’s Nine Parts of Desire (I’m curious as to whether her non-fiction is as poorly written as her fiction) ” –> this had me laughing so hard. I gave up on People of the Book about halfway through-ugh. And I refuse to try March now.

    3) City of Oranges: An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa, Adam LeBor –> I just finished this one and it was really, really good. It took me awhile to get through, though! And I’m not sure why-it wasn’t boring or anything. I think I took it slowly to process the information. :)

    1. Eva:

      1) I’m trudging through the Garnett purely because it feels like a waste to have it sit (unread) on my shelf, but I’m real tempted to just put it down and read the Pevear.
      2) After People of the Book, I also refuse to read more of Brooks’ fiction. Still, I’m willing to give Nine Parts a try.
      3) I really really want to read City of Oranges, but having trouble procuring a copy. Hopefully I’ll find one soon.

      Thanks for dropping by :)

  5. I really liked reading March. I haven’t read any other Brooks, but I liked the concept of capturing Mr. March and I appreciated the contrast to the world of “Little Women.”

    It wasn’t “deep” or anything, but it was interesting and entertaining.

    1. Rebecca – I think it may be the case that I’ve had too high an expectation of Brooks, what with the Pulitzer Prize and the glowing respect of the general public here in Australia. To be honest, I find the actual content of her books very entertaining/interesting, but just the way she writes gets on my nerves.
      While I’m willing to read Nine Parts, and March does sound interesting, I think I’ll take your word for it. Little Women is one of my favourite classics, and I know I wouldn’t be the same if Brooks changed it for me.

      Ever since I watched the film Great Gatsby, I’ve been unable to erase Robert Redford and Mia Farrow (whom I think were badly cast) from my mind. Gatsby is no longer magical for me, to the extent that it was before I saw the adaptation.

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