Nikolai Gogol. St. John's Eve and Other Stories. Translated by Isbel F. Hapgood.” 3.1 (October, 1886): 41.




[Harvard Monthly 3.1 (October, 1887), 41]


ST. JOHN'S EVE, AND OTHER STORIES, translated from the Russian of Gogol, by Isabel F. Hapgood. New York: T. J. Crowell & Co.

THE FEUD OF OAKFIELD CREEK. Josiah Royce. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.


Who had such wise seismometric instruments that they foretold him while we were being shaken by the Browningian earthquake, that the next upheaval of interest in the fashionable reading world would come from Russia? We had not. But we are glad enough that it is so; although with Goethe,—and at a humble distance,—we are Neptunists in all matters sublunary, and distrust volcanic processes. Yes, translations of all kinds from the Russian are being belched forth with great rapidity. Some, we fear, resemble the originals as squeezes and casts resemble the carving and sculptures they are meant to symbolize. Others are drawn with discerning, sympathetic eye, and skilful hand from the originals, and adapted to their new material according to the exigencies of that material. Among the last is the translation of some of Gogol’s phantasies, by Miss Hapgood.


The stories chosen are among the best that Gogol wrote. We are inclined to suspect, however, that, had the translator depended entirely on her own judgment, her choice might have been a little different. To appreciate these stories, readers should first make themselves acquainted with Ralston’s writings on Sclavic folk-lore. The translation is good, on the whole. It is not what Mr. Hart calls an "upsetting." But it is evident that the translator never lived long enough in Russia to be made intimate with Russian manners and customs, and with the way the real Russian has of looking at things. The evidence lies in the fatal fatality she has for just missing the joke, or the fine touch of sarcasm. For instance: the point in line eleven of p. 317, is lost by the use of the correlative and instead of the subordinate conjunction because. Another instance is to be found on p. 26, where pannotche is left untranslated and explained in a note as Sir. It should be translated “my dear little Sir.” Quite too many words are left untranslated. The English style bears a few traces of the Browningian age.