Englishwoman in 60 years began to learn the Russian language after reading Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” and became a translator

Englishwoman Mary Hobson began to teach Russian language, reading Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” in 60 years. Now she is 90, she is perfectly translates into English by Alexander Pushkin. By the way, the day before yesterday celebrated its 180 th anniversary of the great poet’s death. 10 February to the new style he died after being seriously wounded in a duel.

Mary Hobson took Russian in an age when others are beginning to worry, as it does not forget their native language. When she was under 60, the writer was in the hospital. And so that the mother was not bored her daughter brought a good thick book “War and Peace”.

“The first 30 pages of very difficult, because I did not understand the patronymic, and so on, but when I have them learned – oh! – It was a new world! “- Recalls Mary Hobson.

Tolstoy not only cured her from the hospital boredom, he radically changed her life. “I woke up at night and thought: “I do not read” War and Peace”, I read the translation. Who knows – good or bad? I need to study the Russian language!” – Says Mary Hobson.

“War and peace” in the original she read two years. Long accustomed to the Cyrillic alphabet and lifelong friends with the Russian-English dictionary. 62, Mary became a student again – the oldest on department of Slavic Studies at the University of London. And, according to her teachers, the most diligent.

“Imagine, this student group! In this group of 10 people, nine of them girl 20 years old. And interestingly, she was the best student in the group!” – Says the translator Marina Litvinova.

In Moscow she worked on probation still in Soviet times.  She lived in a normal student hostel. Russian taught not only Pushkin and Griboyedov, but also to make acquaintance in line for sausage and sugar. “It’s so interesting! But it is difficult, because you have to find food, products and so on” – says Hobson.

In Russia, Mary learned not to pay attention to domestic problems. Accustomed to the night conversations in the kitchen and fell in love with the real Russian winter. In short, all as Pushkin.

Russian poetry she reads as a musician-music. First of all, it recognizes the rhythm. Then select the appropriate English word and rhyme. Live iamb Mary Hobson talked Chatsky and Sophia of Griboyedov “Woe from Wit”. And, of course, the protagonist of the famous novel in verse: “My uncle most honest rules when not in the joke was sick …”

Working on the “Onegin”, Mary consciously not interested in how he was transferred to the other. It’s her Pushkin, and the third, he always unnecessary. Now she translates “Ruslan and Lyudmila”. Slowly quatrains several per day. But it did not work. It is pure pleasure!

“It’s a cross between crosswords and fine art. And it is necessary to think, feel, hear. And it requires only that you have”, stresses Mary Hobson. Her example – is another science. In 90 years of working with such passion and such a clear mind! And plans for her big – to translate all of Pushkin.


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Dmitry Soshin


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1 Comment on "Englishwoman in 60 years began to learn the Russian language after reading Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” and became a translator"

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Good for Grandma! Never too late to learn something new!