November: Russian Reading Month

Here is another fantastic event that I found out about via The Classics Club: tuesday in silhouette is organizing a Russian Reading Month for November! I’ve got plenty of Russian literature on my Classics Club list so I am thrilled to take part.

The book I am choosing to read is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

(Dostoevsky’s notes for chapter five!)

I have the translation from Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky which caused a stir when I was an undergraduate — a GOOD stir. Everyone was talking about how much they loved this translation because it was incredibly faithful, captured so much of the heart of the book, and is so well annotated.

I had also wanted to read it because it was when the film Henry and June came out, and I wanted to know what all this Dostoevsky business June was talking about with Henry Miller’s writing!

(are there any two more gorgeous creatures on celluloid?)

So, I read it, and loved it. I was surprised that I was so absorbed, and found it… earthy! Funny! Tragic, yes, but… it was like living. Ohhhh, I get it June (but, for the record, I like Henry Miller’s writing just fine. Way to give him a complex, honey!). I know it’s a difficult book, but I didn’t find it hard to read…just hard to think about…if that makes sense.

So here we are. Russian literature in November. Dostoevsky. I am so curious to see what I think of this book after the passage of 20 odd years.

Thank you tuesday in silhouette for hosting this event!


  1. Ruby Scarlett

    Haven’t read it. Hope you enjoy as much as the first time! I think the only Russian novel I’ve read is War and Peace, which was good until the disastrous epilogue.

  2. tuesday

    Wow Dostoevsky’s notes look amazing!

    In terms of translations, I’ve always opted for other translators like Briggs or Garnett (I know she’s flowery and extremely liberal, but I still love her)…. While I’ve actually never read a FULL text by Pevear/Volokhonsky, only excerpts, I’m not sold. They seem to be faithful to the point of obscuring meaning, which seems to be equally criminal to obscuring meaning by being interpretive, in my eyes. (Things like this:

    Am I being overly critical? Would you say that relative to the flaws of other translations, theirs is the best modern English translation?

    • jackiemania

      I have only read their translation, and was so impressed that I also got their translations of Demons and Crime and Punishment. I do not have their translations of any other authors, though. I’m not knowledgeable enough to to say they are the best modern translations, but I can say that I like them immensely…enough to have sought them out for other Dostovesky. I have to look into their other translations and the talk about them! Interesting!

      • tuesday

        Well maybe Doctor Zhivago is the exception then, because I’ve heard only good things about their Anna Karenina as well. I’ll look into getting the PV Dostoevsky when I get around to it hehe

        • jackiemania

          Now I’m all hot and bothered to get their translation of War and Peace, so that I can see how they translate another author. I’m so glad you wrote and gave me some food for thought!!!

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