Translation differences

by Andrea Elizabeth

I am listening to Dostoevsky’s The Idiot on Audible, translated by Blackstone. I wanted to post about Dostoevsky’s adverb, “incautiously” to describe how someone said something. The free Ebook was translated by Martin and does not use that word in the following:

“When I said just now that we, you and I, were the lion and the ass of Kryloff’s fable, of course it is understood that I take the role of the ass. Your excellency is the lion of which the fable remarks:

‘A mighty lion, terror of the woods,
Was shorn of his great prowess by old age.’

And I, your excellency, am the ass.”

“I am of your opinion on that last point,” said Ivan Fedorovitch, with ill-concealed irritation.”

Blackstone’s “Incautiously” is a much more interesting description. I believe he uses it again further down.

Oh this is similar but happened earlier in ch 8. The first is Martin’s free translation:

“Gania’s voice was full of the most uncontrolled and uncontrollable irritation.”

Then Blackstone

“I am sick of you! [to his sister] What? You have made up your mind to leave us at last, Prince, have you?” he cried to Mishkin, seeing him get up from his place. Gania’s voice betrayed that pitch of irritation when a man almost revels in his own irritability, gives himself up to it without restraint and almost with growing enjoyment, regardless of consequences.”

Big difference in meaning and complexity of psychology. I’m pretty sure there was another “said incautiously” but I don’t know where to look. To my current thinking, bearing in mind that it has been a few years since I read Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment, that this book tells more of a relatable psychological story. BK was a bit exaggerated, but it was telling of more universal truths. C&P seemed a nice-hearted attempt to be sympathetic to a premeditated murderer, but to me cold-blooded murderers don’t really have psychological preludes, and are thus unrelatable to those who don’t cross the line of purposefully and directly taking someone’s life. I don’t really trust murderers own descriptions of why they did it either, as to me they are too manipulative to be believed. I believe there to be something really deviant in their minds that is really rare.

Anyway, no wonder the Blackstone iBook translation is $17.95.

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