Biting the Bullet

The flyleaf of this book sports a quote (“One finally gets the musical whole of Dostoevsky’s original”) from an enthusiastic notice in the New York Times Book Review of a new translation of The Brothers Karamazov, which the Pevear-Volokh onsky tandem unleashed upon the English-speaking world a quarter of a century ago.  As the author of that enthusiastic review, and hence a person in some small part responsible for the tandem’s continued success, I may be entitled to a private reminiscence.

Some months back, as I was scrolling idly through mentions, for the most part hostile, of my own person on Google, I came across the foreword to a book written by a certain Professor Morris of the University of Hong Kong.  The professor recalled the impression made on him in his youth by Hemingway, who, in his own turn, had been influenced by Dostoyevsky:

He read many of his important books, including The Brothers Karamazov, as translated into English by Constance Garnett (1861-1946).  She was the first English translator to render Dostoyevsky into English, and her translations were the only ones available to Hemingway.  The publication of Dostoyevsky in English caused a sensation—they were something “new,” something that “surprised the world.”  I was especially taken by this statement in A Moveable Feast: “In...

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