Thursday November 19th, 2009

It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right

pevearHaving just published their latest effort, Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories, the brilliant husband-wife translating team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky sit down with the Wall Street Journal to discuss what they’re currently working on (Doctor Zhivago) and their process more generally:

WSJ: How do you resolve your differences over the work, and do disagreements ever spill over into your personal life?

Ms. Volokhonsky: Richard is a native speaker of English. I’m a native speaker of Russian. My task is to explain to Richard what is happening in the Russian text. Then it is up to him to do what he can. The final word is always his. I can say this is not quite what the Russian says. Either he finds something that satisfies me or he says no, this is how we’re going to do it. We discuss endlessly and sometimes it becomes a nuisance because we return to it again and again even after the manuscript goes off. But we really don’t quarrel. It would be much more interesting if we did.

(Photo by Brigitte Lacombe)

(Via The Millions)