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Old 06-18-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
OtterBooks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantasyfan View Post
Since I don't understand Russian I clearly cannot comment on the fidelity of the various translations to the original. In various reviews I noted that the P&V translation is generally considered more accurate than that by Glenny and many readers think it is very good. Further, I think the notes in the P&V version are often quite useful.

That said, speaking personally, I did find the P&V version very stilted and often tedious in sections. So, about a third of the way through, I got a copy of Glenny and found it to be more fluid, idiomatic and much less stilted but, apparently, it also takes more liberties with the text {and doesn't provide notes}. What I did was keep the notes to the P&V translation on hand for reference purposes and read Glenny's version. While this certainly slowed my progress through the novel, I found I enjoyed the book more. In the end, reading should be enjoyable and Glenny provided far more enjoyment.
The P&V translation has its place. I think it's good choice for someone reading M&M for the second time. You're spot-on about Glenny: it's the idiom he seeks to retain, and imo the music of the text, the essence.

A little comparison between bits from the opening:

P&V..

One of them, approximately forty years old, dressed in a grey summer suit, was short, dark-haired, plump, bald, and carried his respectable fedora hat in his hand. His neatly shaven face was adorned with black horn-rimmed glasses of a supernatural size.

And Glenny..

The first of them--aged about forty, dressed in a grayish summer suit-- was short, dark haired, well fed and bald. He carried his decorous hat by the brim as though it were a cake, and his neatly shaven face was embelllished by black, horn-rimmed spectacles of preternatural dimensions.

Glenny's text is playful and vibrant, two of the most important qualities of Bulgakov's writing, and that excerpt is a good example of what you'll find throughout his translation (for anyone interested).

But not only is the text more fluid and fun (imo), the difference captures something important. The "well fed" and "cake" imagery was deliberate class commentary on Bulgakov's part. Anyhoo, just my 2p. It's a great book in any translation.
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