Friday, September 9, 2022

In search of Anna K.

I wrote this morning that I would someday write a post about the difficulty of searching Amazon for the Modern Library paperback edition of Anna Karenina, translated by Constance Garnett, revised by Leonard J. Kent and Nina Berberova, or for any particular legitmate edition of a work in the public domain. Today is the day. And these results, which may change at any time, are as of today:

Search in the Books category for anna karenina modern library and the first result is the Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation, from Penguin. That’s followed by a used copy of the Modern Library unrevised Garnett translation, a used copy of the Kent–Berberova revision (listed as being from 1950, fifteen years before their revised translation was published, a Kindle version of the Garnett translation (“the international bestseller”) selling for 19¢, the Rosemary Edmonds translation, another used copy of Garnett, Harold Bloom’s The Bright Book of Life, the Joel Carmichael translation, and so on. If you change your mind about what to read, there’s also a listing for War and Peace, translated by Louise Maude.

If you search for anna karenina kent berberova, in a sly attempt to exclude the unrevised Garnett translation, you get a used Modern Library hardcover of the Kent–Berberova revision (no price), followed by Pevear and Volokhonsky, Carmichael, a used copy of the Kent–Berberova revision (“1950”), the 19¢ special, and a series of eight CDs, $19 each, translator and reader unidentified.

Try anna karenina kent berberova modern library or anna karenina garnett kent berberova modern library, and the results are much the same.

I began to wonder this morning: how did I ever find the book at Amazon? Via ISBN? No — that number returns, weirdly enough, Pevear and Volokhonsky, the 19¢ special, and so on. Could it be that searches for one edition of Anna Karenina are redirecting me to what Amazon would like me to buy instead? I think it could.

The way I found what I wanted today: anna karenina modern library paperback, and there it was, at the top of the list. So it appears that, at least with this search, paperback is the key word. Though searching for anna karenina modern library paperback also returned listings for Fahrenheit 451 and a Kingsley Amis murder mystery.

Searching Amazon for a work in the public domain is a tricky proposition. It’s much safer searching at a bookstore, though I’m not sure where I’d find a bookstore with two copies of anna karenina garnett kent berberova modern library on hand.

comments: 4

Chris said...

Try with ISBN 9780679783305. Amazon's search feature for books is awful, and Barnes & Noble's may be even worse.

Michael Leddy said...

That’s great to know about. Thanks, Chris.

Matthew Schmeer said...

Try It searches library collections and also links to Amazon and other used book sellers. Searching for "Anna Karenina, translated by Constance Garnett, revised by Leonard J. Kent and Nina Berberova", the Modern Library paperback is the first hit:

However, the Amazon link on the Worldcat page brings you to the Modern Library hardcover edition, used, for $3.63. Selecting the paperback option on that page serves you the Garnett-Carr revision, and the Mass Market Paperback option gives you a horrible Signet Classic TV-Movie version tie-in.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for that, Matthew. I didn’t know that the WorldCat has Amazon links. I’ll have to look more carefully the next time I use it.