Translators: Equal Power as the Author?

One of my favorite books is Anna Karenina. It’s a bit long, but I’ve read it several times. Plus it’s one of the only books where I actually love the movie adaptation.


(Which has nothing to do with my intense love of watching Aaron Taylor Johnson like a hawk.)

It also boasts arguably the greatest first line in all of literature:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

I love that quote. It makes an impact, it’s relatable, & it sets the tone for the entire story.

But, wait…Tolstoy never actually wrote those words. In fact, every time I finish Anna Karenina I have to sit back & remind myself, this whole thing wasn’t even in English at one point.

That quote above is actually a very specific one by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Had I read another Louise and Aylmer Maude’s translation, it would read:

“All happy families resemble one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Translating content so that it’s initial meaning is still in tact is difficult. For example, the word for “room,” “seat,” & “place” in Russian are all the same! What’s the point of a great sentence if nobody can read it properly? There’s been debate & comparisons over which translation is most favored for years. I’ll include some sources for that at the end of this post.

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My Favorite Non-Fiction/Bio Books

So a while back I did this post for a group blog that I was a part of, but I never posted anything about it here. There are a lot of YA readers who ask me how to get into reading non-fiction or biographies. They’re actually more similar to the structure of a fiction book than you might think if you don’t read these genres that often. So these are some of my favorites. I tried to make my selections diverse, so there should be something for everybody. I also tried to include ones I haven’t reviewed yet. So in no particular order:
A Queer & Pleasant DANGER: A Memoir by Kate Bornstein
This book is loud, unapologetic, & the most entertaining memoir I’ve ever read. Bornstein is that lady you’d meet while waiting in a grocery line who tells you way too much information about herself, but you actually think she’s fascinating. The cover reads “The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves Twelve Years later to become the lovely lady she is today.” Bornstein is now a performance artist, a playwright, & an advocate. Plus there’s a movie about her:

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