I’m reading Anna Karenin. I spent a few minutes in the bookstore last week comparing the first pages of the Pevear translation with the revised Garnett, and chose the Garnett. Then last night I spent an hour comparing the revised Garnett with Edmonds, and chose Edmonds — which I’ve read before and found very satisfactory. Finally I searched the web for an expert opinion. The experts, as far as I can tell, are divided. Each of the three translations has learned devotees.
Finding that AK holds up to memory makes me think of my recent dissatisfaction with novels. I’m thinking now especially of Iris Murdoch. When I was in my late 20s I loved her books and, since there are only thirty-some of them, I decided to ration them, reading only one a year. This was a bad idea, because now I don’t like them nearly as much. I’ve had the same experience with clothes. There’ve been shirts I really liked and I’ve worn them sparingly so they’d last for moments I needed a great shirt. Only one day I wake up and I don’t really like the shirt.
As Eila becomes more sophisticated, she is also more prone to the non sequitur. Today, in the car, after four minutes of contemplative silence, she said, in a mildly accusatory tone, “At least some people cook meatballs!”