Richard Pevear on collaborative translation:
I'll take an example of what that collaboration can produce from Tolstoy's description of the Russian Army crossing the river Enns. After a good deal of confusion, the hussar captain Denisov finally manages to clear the infantry from the bridge and send his cavalry over. As the first riders move onto the bridge, Tolstoy writes, "On the planks of the bridge the transparent sounds of hoofs rang out." The Russian is unmistakable — prozrachnye zvuki, "transparent sounds" — and I find its precision breathtaking. It is pure Tolstoy. To my knowledge, it has never been translated into English. What we find in other versions is the "thud" or "clang" of hoofs, and it is likely that I would have done something similar if Larissa had not brought me back to what Tolstoy actually wrote. His prose is full of such moments of fresh, immediate perception. Coming upon them and finding words for them in English has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.
To read the rest of Pevear's article on the experience of translating Tolstoy's War and Peace in collaboration with Larissa Volokhonsky, click here. Their new translation is due to be released this week. I must get myself a copy!