24 August 2006


I reread Soul, or Dzhan by Andrey Platonov this week. This time I was able to get the newer translation done from an unedited version of the story.

I liked this newer translation better; I felt that this translation was more aware of the Central Asian setting. It was also interesting to compare what was taken out. Actually, little was taken out the first time. The ending was the biggest difference because there were two different endings written by Platonov. The most noticeable change other than the ending was the many positive references to Stalin. Stalin has been pretty much excised from the version published in the USSR in the 1960s.

The translators chose to title this translation "Soul" instead of "Dzhan." Since dzhan is a Persian/Turkic word and the book was originally written in Russian, it was originally titled with a foreign word. One of the translators lobbied for the title to remain "Dzhan," but the English-speaking translators chose "Soul" because "English readers tend to be put off by titles that are difficult to understand or pronounce." I was disappointed in the reasoning and the decision.

I still recommend this book, and I recommend the new translation by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler and Olga Meerson. It is not a light or easy book, but one that I think is worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. My Uzbek teacher loved my name because it looked like it related somehow to the word Dzhan.

    I'm looking for something to read again...I'll look for Andrey Platonov.