4: Text excerpts, three translations of one dialogue from Babel’s “My First Goose.”
“My First Goose” has been translated many times. Here is an excerpt of one of the story’s key dialogues in three different translations. Notice how each translator conveys Lyutov's distaste as he slays the goose, the old woman’s despair, and the Cossacks’ response.
Suggested Activity: Share the translations with students. Ask them to form groups and discuss the different approaches to Lyutov's exchange with the owner of the goose. Which translation do they prefer, and why? What makes the translations different? What do we learn about the original Russian from each one of them?
Sources: Isaac Babel, The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel, translated by Peter Constantine (New York: Norton, 2001), 232-233.
Isaac Babel, Essential Fictions: Isaac Babel, translated by Val Vinokur (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2017), 194.
Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry, translated by Boris Dralyuk (Pushkin Press, 2015), 53.