Constance Clara Garnett : English Tolstoyan Translator, Academic, Influential

December 19, 1861 — December 17, 1946

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Revolt Library People Constance Clara Garnett

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About Constance Clara Garnett

Constance Clara Garnett (née Black; 19 December 1861 – 17 December 1946) was an English translator of nineteenth-century Russian literature. She was the first English translator to render numerous volumes of Anton Chekhov's work into English and the first to translate almost all of Fyodor Dostoevsky's fiction into English. She also rendered works by Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Goncharov, Alexander Ostrovsky, and Alexander Herzen into English. Altogether, she translated 71 volumes of Russian literature, many of which are still in print today.

Garnett was born in Brighton, England, the sixth of the eight children of the solicitor David Black (1817–1892), afterwards town clerk and coroner, and his wife, Clara Maria Patten (1825–1875), daughter of painter George Patten. Her brother was the mathematician Arthur Black, and her sister was the labor organizer and novelist Clementina Black. Her father became paralyzed in 1873, and two years later her mother died from a heart attack after lifting him from his chair to his bed.

She was initially educated at Brighton and Hove High School. Afterwards she studied Latin and Greek at Newnham College, Cambridge, on a government scholarship. In 1883 she moved to London, where she started work as a governess, and then as the librarian at the People's Palace Library. Through her sister, Clementina, she met Dr. Richard Garnett, then the Keeper of Printed Materials at the British Museum, and his son Edward Garnett, whom she married in Brighton on 31 August 1889. Edward, after working as a publisher's reader for T. Fisher Unwin, William Heinemann, and Duckworth, went on to become a distinguished reader for the publisher Jonathan Cape. In the summer of 1891, then pregnant with her only child, she was introduced by Edward to the Russian exile Feliks Volkhovsky, who began teaching her Russian. He also introduced her to his fellow exile and colleague Sergius Stepniak and his wife Fanny. Soon after, Garnett began working with Stepniak, translating Russian works for publication; her first published translations were A Common Story by Ivan Goncharov, and The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy. The latter was published while she was making her first trip to Russia in early 1894. After visits to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, she traveled to Yasnaya Polyana where she met Tolstoy; although the latter expressed interest in having her translate more of his religious works, she had already begun working on the novels of Turgenev and continued with that on her return home. Initially she worked with Stepniak on her translations; after his untimely death in 1895, Stepniak's wife Fanny worked with her. From 1906, her favorite amanuensis was a Russian girl, Natalie Duddington whom she had met in Russia and in whom she found "real intellectual companionship".

Over the next four decades, Garnett would produce English-language versions of dozens of volumes by Tolstoy, Gogol, Goncharov, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Ostrovsky, Herzen and Chekhov.

Her son and only child, David Garnett, trained as a biologist and later wrote novels, including the popular Lady into Fox (1922).

By the late 1920s, Garnett was frail and half-blind. She retired from translating after the publication in 1934 of Three Plays by Turgenev. After her husband's death in 1937, she became quite reclusive. She developed a heart condition, with attendant breathlessness, and in her last years had to walk with crutches. She died at The Cearne, Crockham Hill, Kent, at the age of 84.

From : Wikipedia.org

Works

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This person has authored 257 documents, with 495,432 words or 2,822,702 characters.

1877
The load was tied on. Ivan jumped down and took the quiet, sleek horse by the bridle. The young wife flung the rake up on the load, and with a bold step, swinging her arms, she went to join the women, who were forming a ring for the haymakers’ dance. Ivan drove off to the road and fell into line with the other loaded carts. The peasant women, with their rakes on their shoulders, gay with bright flowers, and chattering with ringing, merry voices, walked behind the hay cart. One wild untrained female voice broke into a song, and sang it alone through a verse, and then the same verse was taken up and repeated by half a hundred strong healthy voices, of all sorts, coarse and fine, singing in unison. The women, all singing, began to come ... (From: Gutenberg.org.)
1903
This morning I underwent a medical examination in the government council room. The opinions of the doctors were divided. They argued among themselves and came at last to the conclusion that I was not mad. But this was due to the fact that I tried hard during the examination not to give myself away. I was afraid of being sent to the lunatic asylum, where I would not be able to go on with the mad undertaking I have on my hands. They pronounced me subject to fits of excitement, and something else, too, but nevertheless of sound mind. The doctor prescribed a certain treatment, and assured me that by following his directions my trouble would completely disappear. Imagine, all that torments me disappearing completely! Oh, there is nothing I would... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1894
Christianity Destroys the State—But Which is Most Necessary: Christianity or the State?—There are Some who Assert the Necessity of a State Organization, and Others who Deny it, both Arguing from same First Principles—Neither Contention can be Proved by Abstract Argument—The Question must be Decided by the Stage in the Development of Conscience of Each Man, which will either Prevent or Allow him to Support a Government Organization—Recognition of the Futility and Immorality of Supporting a State Organization Contrary to Christian Principles will Decide the Question for Every Man, in Spite of any Action on Part of the State—Argument of those who Defend the Government, that it is a Form of Social Life, Neede... (From: Gutenberg.org.)

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An icon of a baby.
December 19, 1861
Birth Day.

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December 17, 1946
Death Day.

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May 6, 2021; 4:57:29 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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February 27, 2022; 7:23:46 AM (America/Los_Angeles)
Updated on https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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