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January 16, 2010

1 Down, 51 To Go "The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories" (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

This year, my 52 Books, 52 Weeks project will take a different tack. Instead of being sponsored by Baltimore's Atomic Books, I will dig through the pile of books sent my way and review the titles unlikely to be featured in the Book Notes series.

Atomic Books will continue to sponsor Largehearted Boy through various contest offerings throughout the year, and owner Benn Ray has started contributing a new weekly column, Atomic Books Comic Preview, where he lists the weeks' new comics and graphic novel highlights.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's new translaton of Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories is simply stunning. Pevear and Volokhonsky have breathed new life into many Russian classics over the years, and I find myself drawn to their translations as much as new novels by my favorite authors.

One of my goals this year is to revisit more story collections I loved years ago. I have always admired the title story of this book, but when I read the collection again this year (15 years after I read it originally), I found "The Kreutzer Sonata" to be my favorite, an incredibly detailed examination of love, rage, and jealousy.

I actually pulled out my old paperback copy (the Wordsworth Classics edition) of this book, a title I loved at the time, and compared the title story to the new translation. The Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is timeless and captures Tolstoy's effortless prose, while the Wordsworth Classics edition is dated and at times a bit disjointed.

Even if you have read The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories in another translation, I urge you to rediscover it through the new eyes of translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

My next book is Absolute Promethea: Volume 1, by Alan Moore & J.H. Williams III.

also at Largehearted Boy:

52 Books, 52 Weeks
Online "best of 2009" book lists
Online "best of 2008" book lists
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)


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