Month: November 2020

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (trans. by Oliver Ready)

Posted November 10, 2020 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 5 Comments

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (trans. by Oliver Ready)Title: Crime and Punishment (Goodreads)
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Translator: Oliver Ready
Published: Penguin Classics, 1866
Pages: 702
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindleWordery (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

What I love about rereading a translated classic is that most of the time there are so many translations to try out. The translator makes a big difference and it is amazing how different it can make in interpreting the text. I love Russian literature and have openly discussed my issues with most of the commonly used translators, being their translation method, the anglicising of names or their censorship of the text. I will leave you to work out my meaning here, I just reread Crime and Punishment, but being an outsider to a BookTube readathon. My issue was the fact they picked a translation that I was not interested in reading, so I buddy-read the Oliver Ready translation with Derek from Read the World! I thought it was a way of being ‘sort of’ apart of the community reading event but still have a more one-on-one conversation with a better translation.

It has been eight years since I last read Crime and Punishment, and looking back at my previous review, it does not look like I said anything interesting about this great novel. I mention the class struggle and internal conflict of Raskolnikov, but I did not really go into any detail. The internal conflict is obvious, you can see a psychological break down of Raskolnikov after the murder, but I struggle to comprehend everything Dostoevsky is trying to say here. From the reread, it feels like there is a philosophical question being thrown at the reader, but Dostoevsky never seems to offer any insights. I wonder if Dostoevsky had any true answers here, because on this reread, I feel like the struggle with understanding the psychological and philosophical ramifications of the crime is the purpose of the novel and no true answers are given, or if they are I might find out on a later reread.

Class struggle was an interesting topic to explore with Crime and Punishment. Raskolnikov is struggling with the idea of class internally. He has it in his mind that he is a wealthy intellectual, but in reality, he is just a struggling young man living off the money his mother gives him. Upon rereading, I was fascinated to just how disillusioned he is about his own class status. He is just a young man, that really has no idea of his own value or how to budget his money. I found it interesting to look back at my reading of this novel, I was closer to the same age as Raskolnikov and probably had similar naivety. However, I will not go into great detail about this, as you will be able to find my discussion of the book with Derek here.

I was very impressed with Oliver Ready’s translation of Crime and Punishment; I think his translating method really appealed to me. There was some modernisation of the writing but done in a way that still felt dated. Like he used phrases that felt old but still more contemporary, and I think he managed to nail that balance of making the book accessible, while still feeling like an older piece of literature. I really hope Ready continues to translate some of the Russian classics, not just Dostoevsky.

I am probably going to regret not putting extra time into this review, I have a lot to say but I know that I want to save that for the podcast. This time reading it, I think I cared more about the secondary characters rather than Raskolnikov, particularly his sister Dunya, but I also liked Sofya. She was a fascination for me, and I wish Dostoevsky spent more time with her. I will have to read this novel again and again, not sure which translation I will go with next, possible the Michael R. Katz translation. This is the type of book that needs to be reread every few years, just to see what you get out of it later.

2021 Reading Project: Invisible Cities

Posted November 7, 2020 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 6 Comments

As most people are aware, I am a fan of translated literature. I have a blog, YouTube channel, a podcast and talk about It on social media. In the UK, Ann Morgan gained a bit of a following for her blog A Year of Reading The World, which she then turned into a book called Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer (or if you live in the North America, The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe), which has inspired many people to take on similar projects. I have been interested in world literature before reading her book, but I do want to achieve a similar goal. Granted, I do not want to focus it into one year and I want to read more than one book from every country in the world, but I want to grow my knowledge of the world by reading its literature. Beginning in January, I am planning to be involved in a project called Invisible Cities, in which we are encouraging people to read books from different countries.

This idea originates from Yamini (Shakespeare and Spice) and also involves Agnese (Beyond the Epilogue), Stephanie (Time to Read), Natalie (Curious Reader), Nicole (Nicole is Here to Learn) and Wil (My Bookish Empire). The project is to motivate each other to read books from all over the world. Each month there will be three different countries being discussed with a few hosts on each, but all of us have our own personal goals. For me, I would like to talk about at least one book and one film from each country I am assigned. In January, that country is Argentina, not sure what I will read or watch but I love this pick and cannot wait to have conversations about the literature.

The three countries that we are focusing on in January will be Morocco, Argentina and Japan. The focus currently is Africa, South America and Asia, this was done as we want to give more attention to these continents before moving into Europe, Australia and North America. I am looking forward to this project, not just because it will get me reading more widely, but I love talking about world literature. There is a Discord for this project where you can talk to others involved and get resources. However, if you are just a casual fan of world literature or cinema, you should also join my Discord, Literary Salon.

I know I am constantly promoting world literature, but I like the idea of building a community and help others find the joys in the literature I love. I am currently building a database in Notion of books from around the world and I hope to easily see where my reading gaps are, and also document all the books I love from different countries. This obviously is a working project, but I hope that one day, I can look at my reading life and tell people exactly what books I have loved from all over the world. Also, maybe this reading project will mean more guests on my podcast.

Now, I have so much planning to do; I am very excited to continue my journey into translated literature and develop a deeper understanding in world cinema too. I hope others will be inspired to join the project and talk about books from around the world. I now need to read Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities so I can understand the reference.