War and Peace - Week 1
So, we have reached the end of the first week of reading War and Peace. And I have to say, I am actually enjoying it! I finished the week's reading on Tuesday or Wednesday, and I am actually looking forward to going back to it! Yay! Unfortunately I don't have much time to write a post, so I'm just going to answer the questions kindly provided by Hanna, who is also the lovely host of this readalong. Huzzah!
1) What pre-existing ideas did you have about War & Peace?
That it is LONG. I also thought that a lot of it was based in the country and was mainly about normal everyday people, not the aristocracy. I'm not sure why I thought that though. I don't think I ever really imagined that I would read it, so I never spent much time thinking about it, haha.
2) On that note, is it as bad as you'd expected? :P
Well, I didn't really expect it to be bad! It is as long as I expected, but it is also quite easy to read and interesting. I'm really enjoying it so far!
3) What strategies are you employing?
I'm reading it on my kindle, because I had the whole holding a massive book experience when I was reading Infinite Jest, and it's not something I'm that excited to repeat! So far I have just been reading it when I feel like it, and that really worked for the first week, so I'm just going to carry on doing that!
4) How are you getting along with your translation?
Okay. I am reading the Pevear and Volokhnosky translation, and it doesn't seem to be problematic at all. Apparently it is actually fairly representative of the actual style that Tolstoy wrote in, rather than being changed a lot to read nicely in English, which in theory I approve of, but it's leaving me wondering whether I would prefer a translation where more focus is put on the readability of the English. I think if I enjoy the book enough that I want to re-read it at some point, I might try a different translation to see what the difference is.
The only thing that has really annoyed me so far about the translation is the French bits. I am not annoyed by the French remaining in the text at all (because YAY LANGUAGES!) but the translations (which are in foot notes) only have the translation of the French in. So if you have a character who is speaking a mixture of French and Russian, you have to look back to the original speech and put in the Russian. I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem really with a paper copy, but on the kindle it's irritating (if nothing else, the footnotes box thing covers up the text that the footnote is for quite often!), so I wish that they had left the Russian (translated into English of course, hehe) in there in italics or something. That is literally my only complaint though, and the amount of French seems to be decreasing as I get further into the book so it's only a minor one!
Also, I saw some talk of this on twitter, but if there are two princesses talking, it would help if their actual names were used rather than just princess!! Hehe.
5) Most and least favourite characters?
Just like in real life, it takes me a while to get to know characters well enough to say that I actually like them, so I don't really have any favourite characters yet. I dislike Prince Andrei because he is being a complete arse towards his poor wife, and what's his face and what's her name who were trying to make it so that Pierre wouldn't get his inheritance are quite nasty too! As you can see, I already have a very firm grip on all the character's names.
6) How do you feel about the way women are treated in the book?
Not particularly happy, but I think that it is a product of the time it was written in so I'm trying not to let it get to me! The things that I have read about the book have told me that Pierre is supposed to be the character who sort of represents Tolstoy in the book, and he hasn't been particularly awful to women so far, so I'm choosing to think that Tolstoy was just depicting general social attitudes at the time, rather than agreeing with what his characters are saying.
Alas, that is all that I have time for! As I said, I am really looking forward to getting back into it, so hopefully that is a sign that this will be an enjoyable few months!
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I think it's really interesting that the reason that I like my translation is that it seems to be translating it so that it reads smoothly in English, rather than accurately following the Russian word for word but that you like yours for the opposite reason! Mine does leave me wondering how much is changed but I figured that as long as I'm enjoying it, I won't worry too much :)返信削除
I too am not a fan of Andrei (or Andrew, as he is in my edition!) - he's a prat. The what's his face with all the children whose name begins with a V is also a tool, which I was disappointed in because I liked him at first!
I still can't believe your copy calls him Andrew...削除
Prince Vasily? One of the few names I remember, purely because I dislike him.
Heh, I'm not sure that I LIKE my translation for doing that, but I respect it completely as a translation decision! I think I would have to read another translation to figure out which one I actually personally prefer as a reading experience. I think though the fact that everyone still seems to be enjoying it means that it probably doesn't matter that much what translation you're reading! Yay!削除
And yes, Vasily is awful too!
I finished reading really early as well, purely because I actually enjoyed reading it.返信削除
Haha, I'll admit that reading on your Kindle does has its upsides - I ended up with quite a painful dint in my leg after reading it on a bench this week! Well you have to rest it SOMEWHERE...
it's leaving me wondering whether I would prefer a translation where more focus is put on the readability of the English. I'm clearly a total philstine, but I love that my edition translates COMPLETELY into accessible, moderately informal, English - I think it's improved my enjoyment of the book an awful lot.
Hehe, I can imagine!削除
I don't think that makes you a philistine! There's no way that anything translated into another language is going to really capture the whole of the original anyway, and I feel like when you're reading translations you sort of end up having to read for plot and characters more than the writing style, because it's really hard to tell how much of the writing style is the original author's and how much is the person who is translating it. I did some contemporary fiction translation modules at university, and it was really fascinating seeing how completely different everyone's translations were, I don't think there's necessarily a wrong or a right way of doing it (as long as you're actually translating what is there, and not just making stuff up or misunderstanding the original text!). So really when there are a lot of translations available it just comes down to personal choice. I think that, although I do respect the translating decisions made in my copy, I might actually prefer one that is written in a slightly more accessible way, purely because trying to work out what is going on pulls me out of the book occasionally! If I do ever re-read it (not particularly likely I don't think, given its size, but you never know!), I think I will try a different translation. I'm not really unhappy with mine as such, I just wonder how different reading a different version would be!
ARGH, the ONE time I don't clipboard my comment before I publish it and Blogger eats it... Figures. Now, what did I SAY?返信削除
Haha, this is totally your area of expertise, isn't it? :)
It hadn't occurred to me before we started reading that everybody's translations would be so different. Obviously I've read translated works before, but never in conjunction/comparison with other people and it's quite interesting.
I agree that you kind of have to read for the plot/characters, but I'm sure translators at least try to capture the tone of the original - probably easier said than done though.
Stupid blogger! That happens to me so often, hehe.削除
It is! I guess, but I would never want to try to translate literary fiction! Technical writing is so much easier to get right I think (although I have seen some pretty terrible technical translation so I would add that you have to actually understand the original language and have a solid grasp of grammar etc. in your own no matter what you're translating! ... I have more of a grasp on English grammar than I might demonstrate in this blog, hehe)
I've never really compared professional literary translations either, it is interesting! (I'm not sure that my classmates translations at university are on the same level, somehow!) I think it would be really fascinating to read several different translations of a chapter and see how they compare. I'm probably not going to do it though, I'll be honest!
Hopefully the translators do manage to capture something of the tone! I think no matter what you do,it sort of ends up being the translators interpretation of the tone though, which can differ wildly depending on the translator. I think this maybe isn't as difficult with language that are similar, but with Japanese and English for example, the languages are so completely different that any translation is going to be more of an interpretation than anything else (especially seeing as Japanese has a habit of not having a subject in the sentence and being really vague - not useful when you're translating into a language that generally needs a subject!) I'm not sure how similar Russian and English are (should ask my sister really, she studied Russian for a while), but I think that they probably aren't as similar as say, French and English. So I do think that unless any of the translators are completely incompetent (and I doubt that they are!), there probably isn't really one translation that is superior to the others, it's more a matter of personal taste.
Ideally we could all just read the original Russian, but obviously that isn't possible!
...I ramble so much when I comment, hehe. It's my blog, I'll do what I want, dammit!