Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky seemed to me to be wonderful translators when I read The Brother Karamazov and The Idiot in their translations. Then I started Anna Karenina. I noticed that it sounded very similar. I seriously doubt that Dostoevsky and Tolstoy sound anything alike. I then read a few pages (an Amazon preview) of a Gogol translation by them. Same voice. I have no Russian, but I am extremely suspicious that their translations do not give an accurate flavor of the original prose.
I sort of wish you hadn't mentioned the Naked Bosom and the Mating Turtles. Yes, I did enjoy those chapters (especially the Naked Bosom). Although I, of course, would never have actually behaved like Palomar, I could totally relate to his attempts to interact appropriately when confronted by exposed female anatomy. (LOL.) But since those are early and I've already read them, you have actually undermined further my efforts at continuing. Nevertheless, continue I will.
Middlemarch is a magnificent novel, but somehow it's not very lovable. Maybe it's too lacking in humor. (That may be unfair. It's a long time since I read it.)
: Yes, I actually read Palomar a second time and found
: that it's less focused than I first thought. It does
: seem more focused than IC or IoaWNaT, but not much.
: There is something about the prose that seems
: distinctly Calvinesque. I wondered, as I from time to
: time do with a book, if I wouldn't have recognized it
: as Calvino if I hadn't known.
: As for description, you'll find at the end that he
: says each chapter is composed of a Descriptive part,
: followed by a narrative part, followed by a
: contemplative part. I agree that the narrative parts
: are not always very compelling.
: The best bits are at the beginning. The Naked Bosom
: chapter is hilarious. I've told students about it and
: gotten a laugh, even if they don't perfectly
: understand what I'm talking about. The tortoise mating
: chapter is also pretty funny.
: While, IoaWNaT was amusing for me, I do imagine some
: of those chapters could have been very interesting
: novels. I sometimes have this feeling with Borges.
: There's one story in particular, something to do with
: Shakespeare, that makes me think: damn, this was a
: great idea for a story; wish he'd actually written it.
: Middlemarch is massively impressive. I am very tempted
: to say it's far better than anything by Dickens, and
: yet, I find three or four Dickens novels more
: enjoyable to read.
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