Hardcover Monday – Anna Karenina

It’s a big one. Like, really big one. I’ve been trying to finish it for months. One of my book clubs wants to start reading Infinite Jest, and I want to read it with them, too, but I’m telling myself I can’t start it until I finish Anna Karenina. I just can’t. I can’t possibly take on two huge books at one time. It’ll just take me that much longer to finish both of them.

And I’m actually liking the book. I’m a little over halfway through it, and now that I’ve got the good translation (Pevear & Volokhonsky), I’m really liking it. This was the first book that introduced to me the differences in translations. I mean, it makes sense. Different words in different languages can be translated in all sorts of different ways, but because I so rarely read books that have been translated from their native language, I just never thought about it. So I bought a copy of Anna Karenina years ago, not even thinking much about it. And it was hard for me to get into. Like, really hard. It wasn’t so much that the story was bad or anything, just the language was dry. (I can’t remember the name of that translator right now, but she’s pretty famous for having the worse translation of the book. All you have to do is google it.) And then, one of my book clubs decided to read this book this past winter. There was a whole argument thread dedicated to the different translations. A few people like the other woman’s translation better. I don’t happen to be one of them.

Here’s a hint. The bad translation (in my opinion it’s bad, anyway) is always the cheaper one at the store. It’s a classic case of you get what you pay for. The new translation cost me $20. The bad one cost me $8. Yeah.

The story itself bounces around between a bunch of different characters, which I’m not usually into, but I’m not minding it so much. I’m finding it interesting that the only two characters that haven’t interacted with one another are Anna and Levin. It makes me wonder if they ever will (no spoilers, please). A part of me thinks they will, and the other half thinks that this may be a kind of character train, where this person knows that, but the two people on the ends are the only two people who never see each other because they’re so far apart. The only example I can think of this right now is the movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You.’ Most of the characters knew each other, but the two characters on the ends didn’t know one another existed. I can’t remember who the characters on the ends were because it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the movie (I think Scarlett Johansson’s was one of them). Does that make any sense, though?

Anyway, it’s a big book, so I need to get back to reading.