Originally Posted by OtterBooks
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:
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.
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.
I read some of the first part in English in the P&V translation, and the rest in Italian (judged excellent). Did not feel any difference whatsoever. It just flowed easy and funny when it was so, deeply touching where it mattered, and desperately lost in existential shadows in some very Russian passages. What a masterpiece.