And there was even a morsel of gossip on the Publishers Weekly blog. Pevear and Volokhonsky made an appearance to talk about their new translation of War and Peace:
I love the Russian writers, and after hearing Pevear and Volokhonsky talk about the work of translating (they were so intelligent and so charming. "What was the most difficult part?" the crowd asked, and Larissa said, "the boring bits." And her husband talked about the dialogue and how incredibly rich the Russian language was in Tolstoy's time, even more so than it is today, and how there would be only one word choice in English when in Russian, there were many. But my favorite anecdote was the turtle soup dilemma. Were there cox combs in the turtle soup? or scallops? Larissa researched the recipe and while scallops got into the manuscript, a sauce of cox combs will appear in the finished version), I am going to read this book. I even know when. As soon as I get the galley.
It says something about Larissa Volokhonsky that she will research a recipe to get the details right. It's meticulous, it's effort and dedication.
This is the version I have been waiting for. This will mean there is no longer any excuse not to read the Tolstoy epic. Perhaps I should set aside 2008 as "The Year of My Really Reclusive Russian Readings." (I love the rolling alliteration)
It occurred to me last night that it has been 10 years since I first read the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation of Crime and Punishment — something that aroused in me a passion for Russian literature. I will need to think about this a bit more, perhaps draw up a reading list of Russian literature.
Some time back I started looking online for David Remnick's New Yorker article, "The Translation Wars." It was a highly praised essay where he compared English translations of Russian literature, from Constance Garnett to the husband-and-wife team of Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear. Unfortunately, it's not available online via The New Yorker). Yet today I found it via two different blog sites: