I’ve settled on the Maude translation of War and Peace, after trying Constance Garnett (not quite as readable), Anthony Briggs (my favorite modern), and Pevear and Volokhonsky (awkward, though they’re the stars of Russian translators).
I’m reading it slowly, have 500 pages to go, and am finding it a good read outdoors on my biking breaks, though it’s so heavy when I carry it in my panniers that it tips the bicycle.
I like to feel the heft of the book. I sometimes look at big books with dismay, thinking, “How much easier to read on my e-reader.” I have even downloaded War and Peace onto my e-reader. But the truth is, books are much more satisfying than e-books.
There is a sense of continuity with the physical book. It can be passed from one person to another. I still have my mother’s copy of Gone with the Wind. You admire the cover, turn the pages, delight in the ink on paper.You can save a book for many years, then read it again. With an e-book, who knows?
Green cover, nice paper, Tasha Tudor’s illustrations. Somehow I can’t reread this book as an adult: some books are for all ages, some books are not. Now you can download The Secret Garden free from Project Gutenberg. But what is the point when you have the beautiful edition with the illustrations?
Same with Dickens. You can download a free copy of any of Dickens’ books. When I reread Bleak House, I was carrying around a lot of heft. But I prefer my huge book with the original illustrations by Phiz.
Using an e-reader can make you as ADHD as surfing the web. You can read…you can shop..and you can surf the internet (though my e-reader has a little trouble with that). You think your e-reader is your best friend, until you start buying e-books on impulse. (You already do that with books.) And you begin to do that terrible thing, looking at the book in the bricks-and-mortar bookstore and then buying the e-book, seduced by the cheap prices.
Like so many people, I wonder if publishers will put themselves out of business with e-books. How do they pay writers, editors, and designers when an e-book is half the price of a hardcover?
Perhaps publishers should have resisted. Recently the Department of Justice declared some publishers were conspiring to fix e-book prices, using the old agency model to fight low pricing at Amazon. If publishers were serious, they would not only have said, “Look, the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader etc., are going to ruin the book,” but also, “No, we’re not going to sell new e-books anymore at all. Let your readers download books in the public domain.”
It’s corporation vs. corporation, and Amazon is billed as the giant bad guy these days. I don’t know: I love buying books there. But I don’t have a Kindle. That was going too far, and would have meant that all my books were bought at Amazon.
I enjoy my e-reader, and have a copy of War and Peace there. But, as I say, I prefer the
“real” Gutenberg book. Johannes Gutenberg, hero of the Printing Revolution.