Friday, January 3, 2014

5/116 - The Death of Ivan Ilych and Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy

After coming off the Anna Karenina high, I decided to tackle these two short stories, and I went in with a sort of, "Huh! A mere hundred pages to a reading master like myself? Nothing."

And they were easy reads, I will say. There were no moments of bewilderment or boredom, so my high opinion of my reading comprehension ability has yet to diminish by one iota. Which is probably not a good thing, but oh well. 

These stories were great.  I liked The Death of Ivan Ilych more than Master and Man, but obviously they were both excellent.  I felt like the psychological side of things was more developed in Ivan Ilych. 

I have to admit, I didn't like the translations of these stories as much as the translation of Anna Karenina. Not knowing one word of Russian, I obviously can't claim anything from an academic point of view, or make any statements based on anything but my gut. And my gut did not like how words such as, "honey," "kid," and, "mummy" showed up in these stories, and also pointed out to me that the same words in Russian probably showed up in the Russian version of Anna Karenina too and were not translated that way.  Again, it's just what my gut says. 
Also, call me a picky jerk, but I didn't like how 90% of the translator's bio was about how she's related to famous people. She's obviously clever enough to have learned and be a fellow at Oxford, so she doesn't need to rely on that to make her bio sound prestigious. Also, being related to the person who did the first illustrations of Tolstoy's stories will, sadly, not make you a better translator of those stories.  A word at the end that basically stated, "So-and-so's lifelong love of Tolstoy was instilled in her at an early age because her great grandfather did the original illustrations of his stories"would have been more appropriate. 

So. That's what I think, har de har har. 

CONCLUSION: I may be wrong about this, but it seemed to me that both stories were linked by the idea that, even if you've had a largely meaningless life and no one cares that you're dying, literally in your final moments you can be redeemed and at peace.  Which is nice. 

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