Translating Tolstoy

I had an illuminating conversation last week with Rosamund Bartlett, who has almost completed a new translation of Anna Karenina. I asked her whether there was a definitive text of the original to work from, and she told me of a 90-volume edition of Tolstoy’s complete works which was published under Stalin. This is now to be superseded by a 100-volume edition – but since there is a crisis of funding in Russian academe, it has only got as far as Volume 4. Will it be completed in our lifetime?
As it happens, I’m reading Anna Karenina at the moment in Constance Garnett’s translation. (Actually, she decided to call it Anna Karenin.) I confessed to Rosamund Bartlett that I found it impossible to take Vronsky, or Anna’s love for him, seriously once I discovered that he had a moustache – but she told me that all men did in those days and I must be more broad-minded.

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