English translations of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground (1864) started in 1910s with Charles J. Hogarth’s Letters from the Underworld (1913) and Constance Garnett’s version (1918) that remained canonical for the English-speaking readers for almost half a century. Peaver-Volokhonsky’s version of 1993 marked a new stage in the translation history of the novella. Since the mid-century the amount of new translation steadily increases to reach its peak in the 1990s–2010s. The number and the quantity of contemporary translations that demonstrate a wide spectrum of approaches and strategies — following / imitating classical norms, modernization, cross-cultural translation, etc. The explosion of interest in the novella proves that it remains one of the most widely known and read Dostoevsky’s work in the English-speaking world. A brief survey of readers’ feedback (on the basis of a popular book lover blog) and their evaluation of various translations show that the preference is given to Peaver-Volokhonsky’s work and to Boris Jakim: his 2009 translation attracted attention of many readers and provoked ambivalent comments and harsh criticism.
Information about the author:
Olga Yu. Panova, Doctor Hab. in Philology, Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie Gory, 1/51, GSP-1, 119991 Moscow, Russia; Leading Research Fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2520-120X