If I buy a "Barnes & Noble Classics Series" edition of a book that is in public domain, can I be confident that it is "correct," in the sense of being unabridged, un-bowdlerize, and identical to the original?
Answers to the likely follow-up questions:
Why Barnes & Noble? I have a gift card.
What book? The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoyevsky; translated by Constance Garnett
Everybody knows Garnett is inferior to Pevear/Volokhonsky (or whomever you prefer); why would you want her translation? Two reasons:
- I read the P&V translations of Demons and did not like it nearly as much as I had liked Crime and Punishment (Sidney Monas translation) or The Idiot (not sure whose translation, but almost certainly pre-dated P&V). It could be that it's just a lesser book, of course.
- One of my main reasons for wanting to read it is that several authors and other thinkers that I really enjoy/admire considered it a big influence on them - and it happens that most of the folks in mind would likely (or definitely) have read the Garnett translation. If it was good enough for William Faulkner, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, etc, it should be good enough for me. I may read another translation some time, but I want to read what they read.
What's your concern exactly? Before I had the epiphany that I wanted to read the translation that helped shape the evolution of the 20th century novel, I did a lot of searching around looking for opinions on the "best" translation. The main thing that concerned me about Garnett was that, because her translation is in the public domain now, you have to worry about getting versions that are abridged, badly formatted, etc.
The only Garnett translation available from B&N is from their "Barnes & Noble Classics Series." It seems like I should be able to trust B&N to publish a quality text (the quality of the binding and such is less important to me), but I just want some outside opinions.