Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I've posted a schedule in the sidebar. The sections are a little uneven in length, but it seemed best to follow the big breaks than to count pages or even chapters.

I've broken the text into books and parts according to the Dunnigan edition I'm reading.

The sections are labelled a little differently in the online text (tr Maude); the corresponding breakdown is roughly as follows:
Book 1 (28 chapters; my edition has this in 25 chapters!?)
Books 2 (21 chapters) & 3 (19 chapters)
Books 4 (16 chapters) & 5 (22 chapters, although my book goes to chapter 21; the online chapter 22 is incorporated into the first chapter of my edition's next part)
Books 6 (26 chapters), 7 (13 chapters) & 8 (22 chapters)
Books 9 (23 chapters) & 10 (39 chapters)
Book 11 (34 chapters)
Books 12 (16 chapters) & 13 (19 chapters)
Books 14 (19 chapters) & 15 (20 chapters)
Epilogues 1 & 2

It seems so daunting to count chapters, but many of them are in fact very tiny.

Let's see how the first couple weeks go; we can slow it down a bit if need be.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Like A Child In A Toyshop...

Pierre had been educated abroad, and this reception at Anna Pavlovna's was the first he had attended in Russia. He knew that all the intellectual lights of Petersburg were gathered there and, like a child in a toyshop, did not know which way to look, afraid of missing any clever conversation that was to be heard. Seeing the self-confident and refined expression on the faces of those present he was always expecting to hear something very profound. At last he came up to Morio. Here the conversation seemed interesting and he stood waiting for an opportunity to express his own views, as young people are fond of doing.
Ah, I feel rather like young Pierre. Without the educated abroad part. I'm not sure that I am going to be one to express my views, as I am a young person actually not that fond of doing that, yet, I wanted to say how honored I am by the chance to study this great work with such a great group of people.

I also wanted to direct you an excerpt of an article (How to Read a Hard Book) on Oprah's O Magazine website, where there is advice on how to read a great work of literature. War & Peace is the example used. It actually did make me want to read the book even more.

I look forward to getting to know those of you I already know better, and meeting the ones I don't! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Translation Wars"

I’d remembered reading an article in The New Yorker on Constance Garnett and “Translation Wars.” I remember that the article led me to purchase the Rosemary Edmonds’ translation of War and Peace. I did some research and found the article in one of our library databases. Due to copyright issues I cannot link the site. I will provide the bibliographic information*.

Here is a summary of the article:

Garnett translated over 70 volumes of Russian literature. She translated with rapidity and is known to have skipped words she was unfamiliar with and to also have grammatical and idiomatic errors and, at times, her writing would be unsmooth and lack polish. Nabokov was said to have loathed Garnett’s translations. In the article, Nabokov is quoted as calling Garnett’s Anna Karenina “a complete disaster” and he also states that Americans were turned off by the Great Russian novels because they were “reading Constance Garnett” rather than Tolstoy or Chekov.

Nabokov is not the only one with a beef on Garnett’s translations. The article tells of two other translators, Pevear and Volokhonsky, who tried for years to get Random House to publish a correct translation of Karamazov. When comparing the different translations the author of the article, David Remnick, states that, “to compare the Garnett and the Pevear-Volokhonsky translations of The Brothers Karamazov is to alight on hundreds of subtle differences in tone, word choice, word order, and rhythm.”

The article then discusses the importance of translation and details the newest translation of War and Peace by Anthony Briggs. Briggs translates all the French passages to English and spells out the expletives. I like the Edmonds’ translation with the French. It keeps me in practice!

Out of curiosity, what translation are you reading?

*Here are the bibliographic details:
Remnick, David. “The Translation Wars.” The New Yorker. 11/7/2005, Vol. 81 Issue 35, p98, 12p.

Which Translation?

Today, I almost picked up a copy of Rosemary Edmonds's translation but hesitated. I'd like to read a translation that some or most or even one other person would be reading.

So, which translation? Any recommendations?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Short on time?

War and Peace, ultra-condensed:
History controls everything we do, so there is no point in observing individual actions. Let's examine the individual actions of over 500 characters at great length.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tolstoy Studies

It has been a while since I read any Tolstoy, a decade or more.

I came across an interesting link: the Tolstoy Studies Journal (University of Toronto).

Among the resources? A War and Peace family tree, an image gallery and reviews.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

War! What is it good for?

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy.

Sorry for delaying in making this announcement, but I've been busy, and lazy. But there you have it: War and Peace. "This panoramic study of early 19th-century Russian society, noted for its mastery of realistic detail and variety of psychological analysis, is generally regarded as one of the world's greatest novels." "Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic Wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit."

As Rachel has made clear, it's vital to read both the war and peace sections; skipping over the war bits will just confuse you.

Discussion of the first manageable chunk is tentatively set to open on July 5. (The text apparently is divided into 15 books plus 2 epilogues — the schedule for discussion will likely follow these breaks. Other suggestions are welcome.)

I do not have a copy in my possession but will rectify this shortly. (The text is available online.) Within the next week or two I will post a schedule.

Also, I will be updating the list of contributors. If you'd like to be included, leave a comment or send me an email. I will be contacting those of you who participated in the discussion of Middlemarch or who expressed an interest in the next selection to confirm your status.

In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on this selection as well as any resources on the novel, Tolstoy, or the historical background.

Read on!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Last words on Middlemarch

I give you a quotation from Middlemarch's finale, for no other reason than that I love it and never managed to find a way to work it into the rest of our discussion.

Lydgate on Rosamond:
He once called her his basil plant; and when she asked for an explanation, said that basil was a plant which had flourished wonderfully on a murdered man's brains.

Ah, the basil plants I have known...

Thanks to all for reading Middlemarch with me. Feel free to continue to leave comments. If you're just getting into the novel and dying to discuss it, I'd be happy to oblige.

Stay tuned for the next reading group selection.