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Lost in [a] translation

One of the unexpected joys of having a favourite read that wasn't written in your mother tongue is the fun of discovering different translations. All of which add a new element to a novel that you felt you knew really well.

My first encounter with Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita was in the Penguin edition, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

The cover still remains one of my favourites of all the Master and Margarita editions I've seen. If the language is a little measured, there are great editorial notes with this edition providing extremely helpful information on the background to the novel, and its amazing bursting forth onto the streets of the USSR.

Pevear and Volokhonsky are excellent too at bringing out the humour of the novel, along with the darker political background that makes it such a darkly funny book.

The earliest translation of the work, as far as I can gather, was by the Russian-American translator Mirra Ginsburg. Mirra was als…

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