Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Our Translators Work

From David Remnick's great article about English translation of the classic Russian novelists, here's an interesting description of how the husband and wife team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky do their job:

Their division of labor was—and remains—nearly absolute: First, Larissa wrote out a kind of hyperaccurate trot of the original, complete with interstitial notes about ... diction, syntax, and references. Then, Richard, who has never mastered conversational Russian, wrote a smoother, more Englished text, constantly consulting Larissa about the original and the possibilities that it did and did not allow. They went back and forth like this several times, including a final session in which Richard read his English version aloud while Larissa followed along in the Russian.

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