Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina offers a lovely and entertaining description of how high fashion can emerge from a mixture of modesty and technology. In the Constance Garnett translation:

Vassenka Veslovsky had had no notion before that it was truly chic for a sportsman to be in tatters, but to have his shooting outfit of the best quality. He saw it now as he looked at Stepan Arkadyevitch, radiant in his rags, graceful, well-fed, and joyous, a typical Russian nobleman. And he made up his mind that next time he went shooting he would certainly adopt the same get-up.

For comparison, the Louise and Aylmer Maude translation offers:

Vasenka had been ignorant that the stylishness of a real sportsman consists in being dressed in rags but having one's shooting implements of the very best quality. He realized it now that he saw Oblonsky in his rags, yet shining with his elegant, well-nurtured, cheerful and gentlemanly figure, and resolved to follow his example next time.

Both readable renderings, but the one by the Maudes seems to flow a bit smoother to my modern ear. The original looks like:

Васенька Весловский не понимал прежде этого настоящего охотничьего щегольства — быть в отрепках, но иметь охотничью снасть самого лучшего качества. Он понял это теперь, глядя на Степана Аркадьича, в этих отрепках сиявшего своею элегантною, откормленною и веселою барскою фигурой, и решил, что он к следующей охоте непременно так устроится.

Alas, my Russian is so ragged that all I can do with that is sound out the words, and perhaps recognize some proper nouns and a few cognates ...

(from Book 2, Part VI, chapter viii; cf. InverseCatch22 (2004-04-18), CozyZone (2005-05-09), TouchTheFlagpole (2005-05-30), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicLanguage - TopicEntertainment - 2005-06-22

(correlates: CozyZone, TouchTheFlagpole, PrimeDirective, ...)