Chekhov’s stories (which I reviewed yesterday) are available free in the public domain via Project Gutenberg, although the translation is different from the one I read. I loved the translation I read! Compare these to passages from “The House with the Mezzanine: An Artist’s Story” to the Project Gutenberg translation. Is there a “better” translation? I think there is.
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
To the right, in an old orchard, an oriole sang reluctantly, in a weak voice – it must have been a little old lady, too. But now the lindens also ended; I passed a white house with a terrace and a mezzanine, and before me there unexpectedly opened up a view of the manor yard and a wide pond with a bathing house, a stand of willows, a village on the other side, with a tall, slender belfry, the cross of which blazed, reflecting the setting sun. For a moment I felt the enchantment of something dear and very familiar, as if I had already seen this same panorama sometime in my childhood.
Translated by Constance Garnett via Project Gutenberg
From the old orchard on the right came the faint, reluctant note of the golden oriole, who must have been old too. But at last the limes ended. I walked by an old white house of two storeys with a terrace, and there suddenly opened before me a view of a courtyard, a large pond with a bathing-house, a group of green willows, and a village on the further bank, with a high, narrow belfry on which there glittered a cross reflecting the setting sun. For a moment it breathed upon me the fascination of something near and very familiar, as though I had seen that landscape at some time in my childhood.
Which do you prefer? Has a story or novel been ruined for you by a poor translation?
I want to find the best translations for the upcoming works on the HTR&W list. Any suggestions for Maupassant, Cervantes, Proust, and the others?