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Best English translation of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita
Thread poster: SCTranslations
SCTranslations
Local time: 16:59
Oct 20, 2005

I have recommended Master and Margarita to one of my English speaking friends, but now the dilemma is - which translation better reflects the true beauty of Bulgakov's style?

There seem to be different opinions in the WWW. To find out for myself, I guess I would have to read the entire book in several translations and make the comparison. But at this point it might be more time efficient to ask for advice.

I would appreciate any feedback/advice you could provide from your experiences.

Thanks in advance,
Marina


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Estefanía González  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:59
Member
English to Spanish
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Michael Glenny Oct 20, 2005

Hi Marina,

I have read "The Master and Margarita" translated into English by Michael Glenny and it was sheer pleasure, which should be the ultimate test of a well-translated book


However, since English is not my mother tongue, maybe the native readers and speakers will be able to give you better advice


Good luck!

Estefanía


[Edited at 2005-10-20 18:25]


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SCTranslations
Local time: 16:59
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 21, 2005

Thank you, Estefanía
A non-native speaker's opinion is just as valuable and I appreciate you sharing your opinion.
After all, it's the english-speaker (in this case) who's gotta like what they're reading

Best wishes,
Marina


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Larissa Dinsley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:59
Member (2003)
English to Russian
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Michael Glenny Oct 21, 2005

Hi Marina,

My husband also loved his translation but then again he did not read other translations. I guess to answer you question you have to ask somebody who DID read a couple of translations of the same book. I wonder if there is such a person.


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SCTranslations
Local time: 16:59
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 21, 2005

Thank you, Larissa.
You are correct. To give a good comparison someone would have to read more than one version. But feedback like this is very helpful for me. It tells me this translation does justice to the original if the English version is liked by the reader.

Thanks a lot for your feedback.
Marina


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xxxAnna Blackab  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:59
German to English
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The Master and Margarita Nov 2, 2005

Hi
I've just finished reading this book in English - translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. They seem to be a husband and wife team and have translated lots of Russian classics. I haven't read any other versions, but this definitely reads like an original.
It also has extensive notes at the end which enlarge on the cultural background to the novel, which I found very interesting as I'm not an expert on Russian culture, so if your friend is the same as me, this can help a lot! It's published by Penguin Modern Classics.

Anna


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SCTranslations
Local time: 16:59
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 2, 2005

Anna, thank you very much for the feedback.
It sounds like most of the english translations out there are pretty good and the English-speakers pretty much enjoy reading the book regardless of the translation. So most probably, the main difference is for someone knowing both languages and trying to find the best fit. But after all, as long as someone grasps the genious of this work, everything else is quite secondary.

Thank you once again for the comments.


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nannou
English
i've read 3 versions Nov 10, 2005

hello

i've read the following versions:
ginsburg
glenny
burgin & o'connor.

ginsburg translation was based on a censored version of the original text, so there is much missing. glenny's translation didn't stand out to me very much...when i compared particular sections with those in the other translations, i found the language to be the least interesting. burgin & o'connor's was my favorite of the three. the seemed to have gained access to multiply version of the orginal manuscript (there were 3 or 4. bulgakov never actually finished the novel) and so there are parts they've included that don't occur in the other translations, specifically in book 2. i felt like the reading experience was the most rich of the 3. i'm looking forward to reading the pevear and volokhonsky version as i have heard that is also quite good.

hope that's helpful!


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:59
English to Spanish
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New Members! First postings! Nov 10, 2005

Welcome to the Literature/Poetry Forum, Anna and Nannou!

HugZ to the other proZians!

Au


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SCTranslations
Local time: 16:59
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you so much Nov 10, 2005

Nannou,

Thanks a lot for this invaluable feedback. I have also heard that burgin&o'connor translation is one of the more appealing ones and it's good to hear a confirmation to this. In your case, all the more valuable since you can compare to other 2.

Best wishes to you and thanks again for your help.
Marina


nannou wrote:

hello

i've read the following versions:
ginsburg
glenny
burgin & o'connor.

hope that's helpful!



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conclusion on best english translation(s)? Mar 10, 2010

hello, did you ever determine what the best english translation is for Bulkagov's Master and Margarita? I am reading the Pevear/Volokhonsky version and it is fantastic but I don't have a reference translation. I wouldn't mind reading this again if I knew there was an even better translation out there....... and how much is true what the other poster stated about some translations not having "access" to some of Bulkagov's writing in Book 2?

thanks


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