The Kreutzer Sonata, And Other Stories : Translator's Preface

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1889

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(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "It is necessary that men should understand things as they are, should call them by their right names, and should know that an army is an instrument for killing, and that the enrollment and management of an army -- the very things which Kings, Emperors, and Presidents occupy themselves with so self-confidently -- is a preparation for murder." (From : "'Thou Shalt Not Kill'," by Leo Tolstoy, August 8,....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "People who take part in Government, or work under its direction, may deceive themselves or their sympathizers by making a show of struggling; but those against whom they struggle (the Government) know quite well, by the strength of the resistance experienced, that these people are not really pulling, but are only pretending to." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)

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Translator's Preface

TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE.

On comparing with the original Russian some English translations of Count Tolstoi’s works, published both in this country and in England, I concluded that they were far from being accurate. The majority of them were retranslations from the French, and I found that the respective transitions through which they had passed tended to obliterate many of the beauties of the Russian language and of the peculiar characteristics of Russian life. A satisfactory translation can be made only by one who understands the language and SPIRIT of the Russian people. As Tolstoi’s writings contain so many idioms it is not an easy task to render them into intelligible English, and the one who successfully accomplishes this must be a native of Russia, commanding the English and Russian languages with equal fluency.

The story of “Ivan the Fool” portrays Tolstoi’s communistic ideas, involving the abolition of military forces, middlemen, despotism, and money. Instead of these he would establish on earth a kingdom in which each and every person would become a worker and producer. The author describes the various struggles through which three brothers passed, beset as they were by devils large and small, until they reached the ideal state of existence which he believes to be the only happy one attainable in this world.

On reading this little story one is surprised that the Russian censor passed it, as it is devoted to a narration of ideas quite at variance with the present policy of the government of that country.

“A Lost Opportunity” is a singularly true picture of peasant life, which evinces a deep study of the subject on the part of the writer. Tolstoi has drawn many of the peculiar customs of the Russian peasant in a masterly manner, and I doubt if he has given a more comprehensive description of this feature of Russian life in any of his other works. In this story also he has presented many traits which are common to human nature throughout the world, and this gives an added interest to the book. The language is simple and picturesque, and the characters are drawn with remarkable fidelity to nature. The moral of this tale points out how the hero Ivan might have avoided the terrible consequences of a quarrel with his neighbor (which grew out of nothing) if he had lived in accordance with the scriptural injunction to forgive his brother’s sins and seek not for revenge.

The story of “Polikushka” is a very graphic description of the life led by a servant of the court household of a certain nobleman, in which the author portrays the different conditions and surroundings enjoyed by these servants from those of the ordinary or common peasants. It is a true and powerful reproduction of an element in Russian life but little written about heretofore. Like the other stories of this great writer, “Polikushka” has a moral to which we all might profitably give heed. He illustrates the awful consequences of intemperance, and concludes that only kind treatment can reform the victims of alcohol.

For much valuable assistance in the work of these translations, I am deeply indebted to the bright English scholarship of my devoted wife.

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1888 :
Translator's Preface -- Publication.

February 15, 2017 19:41:06 :
Translator's Preface -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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