Thursday, January 31, 2019

CC Spin: Crime and Punishment

Lurid cartoons on every panel!
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, trans. by Oliver Ready

My chunkster Spin title was Crime and Punishment, and despite the completely un-cozy nature of the novel, I really was pretty excited to read this new translation by Oliver Ready.  I read Crime and Punishment once before, years ago (maybe 15?  after I moved to this house but before I started the blog), and I don't know what translation that was, other than an older one -- given that I was reading a very elderly pocket paperback, it was probably Constance Gannett.  I remember almost nothing, but I did find it something of a slog.  Well, this translation is not a slog!

The story is well known: Raskolnikov, a student in St. Petersburg, has no money and no energy either.  Everything makes him angry, and he lies in his filthy little room and feverishly stews over his terrible, tempting plan -- there's this awful pawnbroker woman, and if he killed her, he could take her money!  He's got a couple of rationalizations for this; she's a useless leech on society, and he could be a Napoleon, above petty moral rules because of his impending greatness, which the money would help.  But his lack of direction seems to have almost as much to do with it.  Raskolnikov performs the murder, and kills a harmless sister too, but he grabs only a few pawned items before running off.  He hides those, and completely fails to profit from his crime.

There's the crime, and the punishment takes up the other 4/5 of the novel, as Raskolnikov finds out that he can now never be free of the terrible fear of discovery.  His best friends and his family are only irritants.  Everything gets worse and worse...


Ready's translation is lively and gripping.  I really liked it, and there are helpful notes as well.  If you're going to take this one on, I recommend investing in this newer edition; it's worth the money.  I have not read the other new translations, so I can't compare, but I think I did prefer this writing to the P/V translation of The Brothers Karamazov I read a few years ago.  Who knows.

I'm excited about the next Spin; it can't come soon enough!

18 comments:

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

"Zippy" is the word I used. An energetic, modernizing translation.

Cleo @ Classical Carousel said...

I started this one last year and stalled. It was the Constance Garnett translation but it wasn't the translation that was responsible but my lack of focus. Glad you liked it! This book is one of my "I'm-determined-to-finish-this-year" ones!

Katrina said...

I read this one donkey's years ago but it sounds like I should read the new translation although I don't like it if they modernise too much and so lose the period atmosphere.

Ruth said...

Wow, what a spin! So, I also read the Garnett translation and thought it was great...which means next time I have to try the Ready translation b/c you've convinced me w/ your praise. Why not!!??

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

Please see several examples of head-to-head Garnett-vs-Ready presented in handy blog post form.

Jean said...

Wow, thanks for commenting everybody!

Katrina, one thing I really liked about this translation was that it *didn't* pull me out of 186* in St. Petersburg. What I think everybody means by the modernity of the translation is that it's lively -- Tom's 'zippy' is a good term -- it doesn't come off as stuffy or overly elaborate. Instead, the action and setting are right in your face; it's immersive. This is not the disastrous translation of Anna Karenina that calls Stepan "Steve," I promise. :D

Anne Bennett said...

I am kind of a chicken when it comes to reading Russian authored books. I read pretty fast which means I tend to skip over text and I understand that everyone has a bunch of names, which must be so confusing. My review of Wide Sargasso Sea,

reese said...

That does qualify as a chunkster spin alright!

I read it once a long time ago (probably the Constance Garnett) & I've been afraid to read it again since. It was very intense!

Brona Joy said...

I gave up my struggle with this one back in my early 20's. But now I know there's a newer translation and that it's good, I may be tempted to try again as an older and more mature reader :-D

Karen K. said...

I'm also planning on reading Crime & Punishment this year, but I have the Pevear translation, and my library also has the recent Michael Katz translation so I may try that one as well. I'm also thinking about Les Miserables and have two different translations so that will also be a tough decision.

Lisbeth @ The Content Reader said...

To my own surprise I really loved this book. Dostojevskij does so well describe Raskolnikov's reasons for his deed and the anguish that comes with it. I read it in Swedish, and the book was a little bit older, so I guess more in line with traditional translations. I am not sure about these modern translations. I think they don't always fit in with the times described (although am not familiar with the translation you mention).
It made me love Dostojevskij and I am eager to read his other books. Only read "Notes from the Underground", which is quite a depressing book, but well describes the times, people's inner thoughts and reasons for their actions.

Jean said...

I agree, Notes From the Underground is a tough one. I'm looking forward to trying the next one on my TBR shelf, which is The Possessed.

Karen, I need to learn about translations of Hugo! I have a cheap paperback of LM waiting for me to work up the courage to read it, but I have no idea what the translation is or what a good one would be. I don't know anything about French literature.

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

If the cheap paperback is the Signet Classics, the unabridged one, the revised Wilbour translation, then it is a good translation. The recent Julie Rose translation is also good.

Jean said...

Tom, I thought it probably was the Signet, but I went and looked and it isn't; it's a Simon and Schuster edition and bizarrely, no translator is listed AT ALL. I presume it's some Victorian thing that was cheap to produce but holy cow, I expected a NAME. I'm going to need a different copy, I think...

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

I am also pretty sure that edition is heavily abridged.

Jean said...

It says complete and unabridged all over it...but no translator. So weird. I'll get a different one anyway. How's the Penguin?

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

The Simon and Schuster I found online was 656 pages. That book is abridged, and then abridged some more. But maybe there is another edition?

The old Penguin (Norman Denny) was slightly abridged, by a mere 200 pages, which seems utterly pointless to me. The new one (Christine Donougher) I do not know anything about, except that it is complete - 1,456 pages - that's more like it.

Jean said...

This is odd. I found the S&S you mention, which looks exactly like mine *except* that mine has a splot at the top of the cover that says "complete and unabridged" -- and it is from 2009, while the date on the other one says 2005. I'm not home right now, so I can't look at the copy, but 600+ pages sounds about right -- not more than 800. I'll look when I get home. But it looks like they just lied...?