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The Tales of Belkin

The Tales of Belkin - Alexander Pushkin, Hugh Aplin, Adam Thirlwell First a caveat—this is more of a preliminary evaluation of the book than a proper review. I will eventually give it its proper due. Being a long-time reader of works in translation, I know how important it is to find a worthwhile translation before beginning the reading of any particular work. Poor, or merely dated, translation can render the life out of even the most vibrant and vital of works. My initial feeling is that Hugh Aplin has done a fine job in translating Pushkin here. I began simply by reading the introduction and a few of the stories, with attention to the notes. As for the introduction, it is helpful and interesting reading, placing this work of prose within the context of Pushkin's literary development, and of Russian literature in general. The stories are quite readable. They don't suffer from strangulated translation. They don't read like a 21st century writer wearing the affectation of 19th century "pantaloons, waistcoat, and frock,"—"these words are not of Russian stock..."—and therefore give relatively direct access to English readers of Pushkin's stories. Without making an exhaustive search for other translations of these stories, I did briefly compare them with the stories and notes as previously published in Norton's The Complete Tales of Alexandr Sergeyevitch Pushkin (trans. Aitken, Gillon R., 1966) and found that Aplin's version comes out favorably. The Aitken version feels dated and rather wooden, where Aplin's dialog, for example, has a far more natural flow to it—at least to my modern ears. The notes, too, seem to be superior in the Hesperus publication, being more frequent, and somewhat more expansive. As I stated at the outset, this is merely an initial evaluation of the kind that I perform for myself every time I set out to read a work in translation. My opinion of the book may change as I read it closely and thoroughly, but there is every indication that this will be a successful and enjoyable read.