A year or two ago, I read an article about a Japanese translation/"simplification" of The Brothers Karamazov. One of the ways the translator simplified it was to take out the patronymics and diminutives. I was absolutely appalled at this, because the patronymics carry special significance in this book, but I want to know, in general, if it is really so hard for non-Russian speakers to figure out who's who in a book. I hear this complaint often, and some people have said they actually cannot finish a Russian novel because they don't want to deal with the various names. Is it acceptable to alter the characters' names, at a huge sacrifice of meaning, so that people can read a work without having to think about who's who?
I'm fairly certain that readers willing to deal with the complexities in Russian novels are rewarded significantly with shades of meaning. Those who prefer simplification will get just that-simple stories for simple people. Too bad, it's sort of like Cliff's Notes-what a loss!