I finished Petersburg last night. At the end of my edition there is a afterward by the translator John Elsworth containing this bit of information: "Bely was never fully satisfied with Petersburg, and published a much shortened redaction of it in Berlin in 1922; however, it was shortened almost exclusively by a process of excision, leaving a text which, though critics have appreciated its increased pace, is not in the last resort entirely coherent."
It sounds as if the earlier translation by John Cournos is of the later, abbreviated, edition of the novel. I re-read Cournos' introduction to see if this might be the case, but there is no clue one way or the other. In any event, I definitely found the new John Elsworth translation to be both more enjoyable and more comprehensible.
« Back to index