This looks like fun

There’s a new translation of War and Peace coming out this week, and the NYTimes is going to read it on their reading blog this month. I think I’m going to play along.

[Barnes & Noble had the book on their website, but of course did not have it just now when I did a quick run out to the new store. If I have to order these things, I’ll just do it throught Scott’s.]

I read W&P many years ago, in high school, I think, and I actually enjoyed it. I know I must have skimmed it, but it was a thrilling, sprawling book. It is as great as they say. This would have been the Constance Garnett translation, of course, and I still have that paperback copy.

I think I started reading it several times, because as one of the readers on the NYT blog says, Tolstoy plunges you right into the thick of the main characters’ society, with all those horrifically confusing names and patronyms and diminutives. I couldn’t keep track. But then one time, I must have broken through that wall, because I kept going and just finished it.

My friend Tim Gunn had read it before me, and his father had given him a map that he then shared with me of the main battles discussed, so that at least we weren’t confused geographically. And there were a couple of adaptations around that time, an eight-hour Russian version, and a British miniseries starring Anthony Hopkins as Pierre, so those both helped in sorting out who was who.

A couple of years ago I began to read it again, sort of as my summer reading project, and I found that it was truly amazing. I didn’t get very far in the book; who knows what distracted me that summer? Was there a new Harry Potter book? Probably.

Anyway, I’d like to try again, and I’d like to try this new translation. Since it’s not really available until Tuesday (I now notice in re-reading the B&N website), it’s odd that the NYT would begin their discussion already.

I’ll keep you posted.

In other news, of course, the venerable Smoke Signals, ECHS’s newspaper since before I began teaching there, has been shut down by what appears to be a fretful and not very surefooted administration. I highly recommend reading the Times-Herald account (along with two op-eds that got them in trouble) and then acting accordingly. The Coweta County School Board can be found here.

In other other news, I brushed up “Sir Christémas” and will mail it out tomorrow to the Outside the Bachs competition. Oddly enough, I think it works extremely well with organ, better than with the celesta and certainly better than using a piano. There’s one chord that keeps bugging me, but I’m resisting the urge to make it consonant.

9 thoughts on “This looks like fun

  1. That’s weird. My father-in-law just started reading “War and Peace” this week. Maybe I should tell him to stop and run out and get this translation?

  2. From the way the translators talked about their work, it might be worth it. They seem to think they’ve captured more of Tolstoy’s “literature” than has been the case in the past.

    I, in the meantime, have picked up my high school copy. Its translator is Ann Dunnigan, not Constance Garnett. I may go rummage in Grayson’s room. I gave him a copy for Christmas, and I know he hasn’t started it yet.

  3. Bonehead indeed. Feel free to express your opinion to the school board.

    I was thinking this morning that I’ve never heard of a case where the principal confiscated the papers that turned out the way he/she wanted it to. Not once. You’d think they’d cover that in Principal Class.

  4. Are you suggesting I write a letter to the same school board that would only allow broom handles to represent rifles in a production of Annie Get Your Gun? The same school board who wants intelligent design taught in science classes? Is that the school board you’re suggesting we write to?

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