New Translations of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ (MASHA GESSEN, NewYork Times, DECEMBER 24, 2014)

What difference is there between being repelled, being repulsed, being disgusted and being offended? Not much, perhaps, but consider the scene: Anna Karenina has taken a sip of coffee and raised her eyes to look at Vronsky, her lover, who is watching her. After hundreds of pages of love, lust, passion, fear, exhilaration, disappointment, exhaustion, aggression and, probably most important, jealousy, they are having their final fight. Leo Tolstoy is describing Anna ascribing an emotion to a man whose love she needs so desperately that she is convinced he has stopped loving her. Consider also this: When she lifted her coffee cup, she extended her pinkie away from it — a precious gesture that signals just how far this domesticated, miserable Anna has come from the glamorous young woman she was at the beginning of the novel; she made a sound with her lips — and she realized this when she lifted her gaze and saw Vronsky looking at her. She saw the most painful thing a woman can see: a lover who is turned off by her physical being.

In the classic translation by Constance Garnett, “she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound made by her lips.”

In the popular 2000 translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, she “clearly understood that he was disgusted by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound her lips made.”…..

from Pocket

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