translation

The Pevearsion of Russian Literature

Gary Saul Morson in a 2010 issue of Commentary — "Pevear and Volokhonsky, who are married, work in an unusual fashion. She, a native Russian speaker, renders each book into entirely literal English. He, who knows insufficient Russian, then works on the rendering with the intention of keeping the language as close to the original as possible. What results from this attempt at unprecedented fidelity is a word-for-word and syntax-for-syntax version that sacrifices tone and misconstrues overall sense."

Remembrance of translations past

From the Public Domain Review — "Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best translation of any foreign work into the English language, his choice of Remembrance of Things Past as the general title alarmed the seriously ill Proust and misled generations of readers as to the novelist’s true intent. It wasn’t until 1992 that the title was finally changed to In Search of Lost Time. “Remembrance of Things Past” is a beautiful line from William Shakespeare’s sonnet 30, but it conveys an idea that is really the opposite of Proust’s own. When Scott Moncrieff chose this title, he did not know, of course, where Proust was going with the story and did not correctly interpret the title, which might indeed be taken to indicate a rather passive attempt by an elderly person to recollect days gone by."

On translating Proust

After noting in Against Sainte-Beuve how beautiful books are written in a sort of foreign language, Proust observed of such works that “beneath each word each of us places our understanding or, at least, our image, and which is often a misunderstanding.” Many of the misunderstandings and disagreements of those who have dedicated so much to understanding Proust’s book are a natural result of our different images, our different imaginations, our different perspectives.