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Sketches from a Hunter's Album (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Aug 1990
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
From the Back Cover
Drawn from his first-hand observation of the countryside and its ways of life, Turgenev's anecdotes, portraits and lyrical impressions depict the peasants and the tyranny of serfdom with such immediacy that when the first of these Sketches appeared in book form in 1852 they were read as inflammatory polemic and led to his arrest and confinement at his estate of Spasskoye.See all Product description
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I only know a little Russian and I don't have a Russian copy of the book, so what I'm about to say is intuitive (or opinionated, you decide), but in this translation, as with others of Turgenev by Freeborn, I sense a kind of literalness that likely makes it a good trot rather than a representation of what Turgenev sounds like to a Russian reader.
Compare it, for example, with the old Cresset Press edition translated by Natasha Hepburn (I think that's her name), which reads better and seems more to reflect Turgenev's reputation as a prose stylist ("prose poet", if you like, but that always sounds like an insult to me: a novel isn't a poem!).
Even better, compare it with David Magarshack's translation of SPRING TORRENTS, which I'm certain is accurate, since Magarshack was fluent in both English and Russian, and which gives you the sense of a true stylist.
Freeborn's version of FATHERS AND SONS has about the same effect. If you read Bernard Guerney's version of this masterpiece, I think you'd be much more impressed by Turgenev's prose.
I think Freeborn is a great scholar and critic of Turgenev (he wrote an excellent study of him for Oxford U. Press), but translations of Russian are best left to Russian speakers who are also fluent in English.
I've read these sketches completely at least half a dozen times since middle school and have been constantly on the lookout for a modern one volume translation. This Penguin Classics edition fulfills that niche in my imaginary Literature Hot 100 list nicely.
I'm often surprised by how few "literary" people read Turgenev. Treat yourself.