The Millions Interview: Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

by Anna Clark
from The Millions

The Russian language is the real hero of Tolstoy’s masterpiece; it is his voice of truth. The English-speaking world is indebted to these two magnificent translators, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, for revealing more of its hidden riches than any who have tried to translate the book before. — Orlando Figes

After reading their 2007 translation of War and Peace, Orlando Figes, the eminent Russian historian, did not mince words about Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. And so, neither will I: When I found out that I had the opportunity to interview the translators, I was giddy as a girlish Beatles fan circa 1964.

As the bestselling and award-winning translators of sixteen great works of Russian literature, Pevear and Volokhonsky are something of a rock star duo in the literary world. The fluency of their translations, grounded in a nuanced understanding of the time and place that the source texts were written, have given cause for many of us to fall more deeply in love with The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Notes from Underground, The Master and Margarita, Dead Souls, and the fiction of Anton Chekhov, among many others. The pair have been working together since 1986; Pevear has also published individual translations from French and Italian. As a duo, they were twice awarded the PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. Their 2004 translation of Anna Karenina was an Oprah’s Book Club pick. more

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2 Comments

  1. Anna
    Posted March 21, 2010 at 3:02 am | Permalink
  2. Inna
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Dear Jeffrey,
    My name is Inna, I’m a novelist from Russia, Moscow.
    I have read your article about the husband-and-wife translation team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky Great story I can say! I’m a writer and I want to translate my book into English. According to the article you have got the contacs of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Could you be so kind and send me their e-mail to contact them and discuss our future collaboration?
    I’m looking forwad to hearing from you.
    Thanks)
    Best regards, Inna

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