Anna Karenina


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Leo Tolstoy; Translated by Marian Schwartz; Edited and with an Introduction by Gary Saul Morson

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Publication of this exacting new translation of Tolstoy’s great Anna signifies a literary event of the first magnitude

Tolstoy produced many drafts of Anna Karenina. Crafting and recrafting each sentence, he was anything but casual in his use of language. His project, translator Marian Schwartz observes, “was to bend language to his will, as an instrument of his aesthetic and moral convictions.” In her magnificent new translation, Schwartz embraces Tolstoy’s unusual style—she is the first English language translator ever to do so. Previous translations have departed from Tolstoy’s original, “correcting” supposed mistakes and infelicities. But Schwartz uses repetition where Tolstoy does, wields a judicious cliché when he does, and strips down descriptive passages as he does, re-creating his style in English with imagination and skill.
Tolstoy’s romantic Anna, long-suffering Karenin, dashing Vronsky, and dozens of their family members, friends, and neighbors are among the most vivid characters in world literature. In the thought-provoking Introduction to this volume, Gary Saul Morson provides unusual insights into these characters, exploring what they reveal about Tolstoy’s radical conclusions on romantic love, intellectual dishonesty, the nature of happiness, the course of true evil, and more. For readers at every stage—from students first encountering Anna to literary professionals revisiting the novel—this volume will stand as the English reader’s clear first choice.

Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) is regarded as one of the world’s greatest novelists. Marian Schwartz has translated more than sixty volumes of Russian fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art. Gary Saul Morson is professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Northwestern University.

“The translation is the most accurate Tolstoy we have in English. Marian Schwartz has been a major force in bringing Russian literature into English for many years, but this is her masterpiece.”—Michael Holquist, author of Dostoevsky and the Novel

“If there is a Tolstoyan out there who is interested in reading a translation that is exquisitely mindful of the book’s complex texture, or someone who has meant to get to Karenina but hasn’t yet got around to this particular pleasure, Schwartz’s tribute to Tolstoy’s craft and sensitivity should be at the top of the list.”—Jim Kates, Arts Fuse

"Tolstoy did not wish to please; he wished to correct, instruct, inspire, persuade.  And as Marian Schwartz notes, he “wholly intended to bend language to his will.”  In her astonishing new translation, she takes seriously Tolstoy’s disgust with smooth Russian literary style, setting a new standard in English for accuracy to Tolstoyan repetition, sentence density and balance, stripped-down vocabulary and enhanced moral weight. A rough, powerful, unromantic Anna that wakes the reader up and rings true."—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

 "This new translation is clearly more fluent and more idiomatic than its predecessors while also conveying something of the distinctive edge of Tolstoy's style.  Gary Saul Morson's illuminating introduction is a vigorously argued dissent from the widespread view that Anna is a tragic heroine."—Robert Alter, author of Imagined Cities: Urban Experience and the Language of the Novel

"This new recreation of Anna Karenina is invisibly beautiful and lucid. It contains no linguistic posturing, no loony Nabokovian essay to mimic Russian syntax and verbal forms in English. Permitting Leo Tolstoy to speak, Schwartz uses with daring authority and impeccable elegance the Russian’s often plain, vulgate, even rude speech, with no flurry into decorative synonyms. Jorge Luis Borges notes that sometimes the original is not faithful to the translation. Marian Schwartz emboldens Borges’s quip, bequeathing us not a translation at all but Leo Tolstoy’s English original. A delicious feat and a monumental gift."—Willis Barnstone, author of Poetics of Translation: History, Theory, and Practice, and Moonbook and Sunbook.

‘If translators are, as Alexander Pushkin said, the post-horses of civilisation, [this book has] come to us on the backs of thoroughbreds.’—Carol Apollonio, TLS.

“Schwartz’s version is not only more accurate, but the language is clearer and more tuned to a twenty-first-century reader . . . Schwartz’s version has more punch . . . An excellent translation like this one can only make the experience of reading Anna Karenina even more enjoyable.”—Christopher Iacono, Three Percent

“[T]he Schwartz translation shows evidence of extremely conscientious work. . . . Tolstoy is rendered into English effectively, sometimes even brilliantly.”—U. R. Bowie, Slavic and East European Journal

Finalist for the 2015 Read Russia Prize.

Longlisted for the 2015 American Literary Translators Asssociation, National Translation Prize in Prose. 

Finalist for the 2015 National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose.

Marian Schwartz won the 2016 Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translation, from the Texas Institute of Letters.
ISBN: 9780300216820
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
792 pages, 6 x 9
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