Ever since I listened to The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, I’ve toyed with the idea of reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Renee, a concierge and one of the two narrators in The Elegance of the Hedgehog, adores Tolstoy’s tome and talks of it often. The way she speaks about it made me want to read War and Peace despite its high intimidation factor, and the desire to do so hasn’t left me since. It’s not so much that I’m scared of War and Peace itself. Rather, I’m nervous I won’t make it through, that I’ll be overwhelmed and have to give up.
So imagine how excited I was to discover that Jillian at A Room of One’s Own is hosting a War and Peace readalong that runs the whole of 2011! It turns out War and Peace has 365 chapters–perfect for reading over the course of a year. A chapter a day sounds manageable, and it will be wonderful to have the moral support of knowing other people are tackling the same book. Want to join in? Visit the sign-up page!
(Note: When I introduced my Classics Reclamation Project, I said I’d always be reading a classic. I am not letting myself off the hook just because War and Peace is a classic I’ll be reading all year. I’m undertaking this readalong in addition to my C.R.P., not as an easy way out!)
Between now and the end of December, then, the challenge I face is selecting the translation with which I’d like to spend an entire year. I’ve never read anything by Tolstoy, nor have I read any Russian classic in translation. (Or not in translation, for that matter, seeing as I don’t speak Russian!)
Before I ask for your help, I have to mention one thing I do know about my preferences for reading in translation: I don’t enjoy translations that involve large amounts of a foreign language. I remember perusing one translation of War and Peace (can’t remember which) that left large swaths of the original French dialogue in French. That would drive me batty.
For those of you who have read War and Peace, or anything by Tolstoy, or any Russian classic in translation: which translator did your edition? If you read something other than War and Peace, I’m happy to check to see if your translator did War and Peace as well. Did you like the translation you read? Are there any pros/cons/recommendations you could share to assist in my selection process? I know how important the translation can be to a reader’s enjoyment of a novel. Thanks for your help!