A new, definitive translation of Tolstoy's early autobiographical trilogy
Leo Tolstoy began his trilogy, Childhood; Boyhood; Youth, in his early twenties. Although he would in his old age famously dismiss it as an 'awkward mixture of fact and fiction', generations of readers have not agreed, finding the novel to be a charming and insightful portrait of inner growth against the background of a world limned with extraordinary clarity, grace and color. Evident too in its brilliant account of a young person's emerging awareness of the world and of his place within it are many of the stances, techniques and themes that would come to full flower in the immortal War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and in the other great works of Tolstoy's maturity. Prizewinning translator Judson Rosengrant has stunningly realized Tolstoy's voice in English prose to make this new Penguin Classics edition of Childhood; Boyhood; Youth the "definitive translation. . . in this generation" (Janet Fitch).
About the Author
Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, and educated privately. He studied Oriental languages and law at the University of Kazan, then led a life of pleasure until 1851 when he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus. He took part in the Crimean War and after the defense of Sebastopol he wrote The Sebastopol Sketches (1855-56), which established his reputation. After a period in St Petersburg and abroad, he married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862. The next fifteen years was a period of great happiness; they had thirteen children, and Tolstoy managed his vast estates in the Volga Steppes, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). A Confession (1879-82) marked a spiritual crisis in his life, and in 1901 he was excommunicated by the Russian Holy Synod. He died in 1910, in the course of a dramatic flight from home, at the small railway station of Astapovo.
Judson Rosengrant has translated and edited a wide range of Russian literature and historiography, including works by Olesha, Lydia Ginzburg, Iskander, Limonov and Radzinsky. He has taught Russian language, literature and culture at the University of Southern California, Indiana University and Reed College in the United States, and translation theory and practice at St Petersburg State University in Russia.
Praise for Childhood; Boyhood; Youth…
“[T]he definitive translation of Childhood, Boyhood, Youth in this generation.”
“Tolstoy’s first published work, Childhood, is unquestionably one of his most engaging and profound narratives, and he followed it in short order with the other two parts of the trilogy. We have several competent English translations, but none of them comes close to matching Judson Rosengrant’s in capturing the young writer’s astonishing precision, stylistic variety, and range of moods. The translation is arresting as both art and scholarship. The introduction breaks new critical ground in presenting Tolstoy’s language and thought. The deft, unpretentious annotations are the most thorough in any English-language edition. I cannot think of a better place to start for new readers of Tolstoy, or a more insightful, enjoyable refresher for experienced Tolstoyans.
—William Mills Todd III, Harry Tuchman Levin Professor of Literature, Harvard College
“Leo Tolstoy began as a verbal artist with the experience of being inside a family. For all the later distractions of war, peace, infidelity, and even the severities of seeking God, he never left that site. This superb new translation of the early trilogy, intelligently introduced, is a miracle of persuasive storytelling about the trials of growing up—and an indispensable workshop for orienting among Tolstoy’s subsequent worlds and worldviews.”
—Caryl Emerson, A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University
“Judson Rosengrant's stunning new translation of L. Tolstoy's first literary masterpiece reveals the Russian novelist's talent in all its startling and visionary originality. Rosengrant renders the young Tolstoy's complex syntactical architecture, his poetic riffs, and his unconventional yoking of adjectives and nouns with an erudite fidelity and stylistic elegance that make all other translations of this work appear plodding and pedantic by comparison. Rosengrant's Childhood, Boyhood, Youth is an example of the art of translation at its finest, combining critical acumen, a specialist's understanding of Tolstoy's art, and a profound sympathy with the original's subtle narrative 'moods,' shifting melodies of language, and deployment of stylistic registers. Thanks to Rosengrant's passionate respect for the integrity of the text and the power of the precisely chosen word to illuminate experience, Tolstoy has found an English voice worthy of his own.”
—Lena M Lencek, Professor of Russian and Humanities, Reed College