Modernist Translation

An Eastern European Perspective: Models, Semantics, Functions

by Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz (Author)
©2016 Monographs 374 Pages


The last two decades witnessed an upsurge in Anglo-American studies of Modernism and its translation practices. The book revisits the notion of Modernist translation in the context of Eastern European (Polish and Russian) literatures. The framework of this study is informed by the cultural turn in Translation Studies and the dynamic concept of Modernism as a configuration of mutually antagonistic and dialogic tendencies, currents, programs, attitudes, and artistic realizations. Along with the analysis of illusionist and anti-illusionist models of Modernist translation, the book readdresses the problems of carnivalization, parodicity, estrangement, conceptualism and topics of translation discourse.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Note on Transliteration, Citation and Translation
  • Chapter 1: The Translational Turn in Modernism Studies
  • Chapter 2: Modernist Translation: Theses for Reconstruction
  • Chapter 3: Models and Oppositions
  • 3.1 ‘The Splendour of Distant Horizons’: Parnassian Translation
  • 3.2 Seraphim’s Servants: Symbolism in Translation
  • 3.2.1 Impressionist Translation
  • 3.2.2 Translation as Theurgy
  • 3.2.3 Metaphysical Translation
  • 3.3 The Chronotopical Fallacy: Neoclassicist Translation
  • 3.4 How to Make Translations? The Constructivist Model
  • 3.5 Cubist Translation
  • 3.6 The Conceptual Art of Translation
  • 3.7 Carnival and the Grotesque Body of the Target Poem: Expressionist Translation
  • 3.8 Modernism’s ‘Jardin Clos’: Mannerist Translation
  • Chapter 4: Parodicity and the Evolution of Translation Models
  • Chapter 5: The Tropology of Modernist Translation
  • Chapter 6: Towards Postmodernism: Translation as Appropriation Art
  • Instead of Conclusion
  • Appendix 1: Modernist Models of Literary Translation (Oppositions)
  • Appendix 2: Modernist Models of Literary Translation (Timeline)
  • List of Figures
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Terms

← 6 | 7 →


This monograph is the result of the Modernist Models of Literary Translation research project financed by the National Science Centre, Poland (DEC 2011/01/B/HS2/03292). During its writing, my colleagues from the Department of Historical Poetics, Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences have been vital sources of both intellectual and emotional encouragement. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Aleksandra Okopień-Sławińska, Zdzisław Łapiński, Magdalena Rembowska-Płuciennik, Beata Śniecikowska, Agnieszka Kluba, Piotr Sobolczyk, and Andrzej Karcz for creating a vibrant intellectual community and supportive environment for my research. My greatest debt is to Włodzimierz Bolecki, whose expertise on Eastern and Central European Modernisms and historical poetics has been the inspiration behind my work. Without his sustained counsel and incisive methodological suggestions this monograph would not have been completed in its present form. I would like to express sincere thanks to Adam Pomorski for his ingenious translations of Velimir Khlebnikov, Maksimilian Voloshin, Anna Akhmatova, T.S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, Timur Kibirov and others. These provided me with constant intellectual stimulation and a showcase in European literary Modernisms, while eluding any attempt to categorize them definitively as belonging to any of the narrow models of Modernist translation which are developed in this monograph. In Pomorski’s translations, the Modernist imperative of linguistic innovation has found its highest expression. My thanks are also due to my colleagues Witold Sadowski and Aleksandra Kremer, at the Section of Poetics, Theory of Literature and Methodology of Literary Research, Institute of Polish Literature, Warsaw University, with whom I had the honour and pleasure of discussing individual chapters of my manuscript.

Several portions of the monograph were presented and discussed at international and national translation studies and literary studies conferences hosted by the Institute of German Philology, the Department of Philology, University of Gdansk (Translation im Spannungsfeld der Cultural Turns/ Translation Among Cultural Turns, 2011); the Translation Studies Section of the International Committee of Slavists (Strategie translatorskie (od modernizmu do postpostmodernizmu) [Translation Strategies (from Modernism to (Post)postmodernism)], 2014; Przekład – kolonizacja czy szansa? [Translation Colonization or Opportunity?], 2013; Wielcy tłumacze [The Great Translators], 2012); the Department of Iberian Studies, the Department of Central European Studies, Bielsko-Biala University ← 7 | 8 → (Dylematy stylizacji w przekładzie [The Dilemmas of Stylization in Translation], 2014; Przekład w kulturze [Translation in Culture], 2013; Dominanta a przekład [The Dominant and Translation], 2011); the Department of 20th Century Literature, Literary Theory, and the Art of Translation and the Department of Poetics and Literary Criticism, Institute of Polish Philology, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Wyobraźnia w przekładzie [Imagination in Translation], 2012); the Department of Literary Theory, Institute of Polish Philology, University of Wroclaw and the Institute of Czech Literature, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (Współczesne dyskursy konfliktu: literatura – kultura – język [Contemporary Discourses of Conflict: Literature Culture Language], 2013); and the Section of Poetics, Theory of Literature, and Methodology of Literary Research, Institute of Polish Literature, Warsaw University (Wiersz. Rytmdźwiękobrazsemantyka [Verse, Form, Rhythm – Sound –Semantics], 2012). Preliminary versions of several parts of the book were thoroughly discussed at the Department of Historical Poetics and the Department of Theoretical Poetics, Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences. I would like to thank the organizers of the aforementioned conferences, seminars and workshops for inviting me to present my papers and the participants for their valuable comments and ideas for further revisions. Let me extend my special thanks to Teresa Dobrzyńska, Grzegorz Grochowski, Edward Balcerzan, Magda Heydel, Jerzy Brzozowski, Piotr Fast, Alina Świeściak, and Katarzyna Szymańska for their perceptive and exacting suggestions, which helped me to improve the overall argument of the monograph and drew my attention to problems that I had hitherto overlooked.

I warmly thank Marta Kaźmierczak from the Department of Translation Studies, Institute of Applied Linguistics, Warsaw University for her exceptional diligence and inventiveness in preparing the English versions of the Polish Modernist translations that have been the subject of my studies, particularly for her translations of Witold Wirpsza’s Ars legendi, Leopold Staff’s Sonet (Z teki dekadenta), Tadeusz Komendant’s Obrok duchowny and Dwa portrety mojej matki and Emil Zegadłowicz and Edward Kozikowski’s ‘Negro poetry.’

I owe a special debt of gratitude to Aniela Korzeniowska, Head of the Department of Applied Linguistics, Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw who, once upon a time, guided me through the initial stages of my academic career with patience and kindness, and who introduced me to the theory and practice of translation from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Finally, I would like to thank John R.W. Speller for his critical reading of the final manuscript and his many insightful remarks and suggestions which helped me to refine my arguments. My acknowledgements would not be complete without ← 8 | 9 → thanking Maria Krysztofiak-Kaszyńska, the co-editor of the ‘Studien zur Germanistik, Skandinavistik und Übersetzungskultur,’ for accepting my monograph for this series.

Deep love and gratitude are due to my husband Maciej for his unwavering support and encouragement, generous leniency and emotional wisdom. I dedicate this book to my children, Ida and Iwo, who filled our home with joy and laughter while I was working on this project.

Preliminary versions of several parts of the book have been published as articles. All have been extensively revised, extended and reformulated to suit the new context of this publication:

Modernist Models of Literary Translation. At the Intersection of Translation Studies and New Modernist Studies (2013). In: Lukas, Katarzyna, Olszewska, Izabela, and Turska, Marta (eds.): Translation im Spannungsfeld der Cultural Turns / Translation Among Cultural Turns. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 71–82.

The Conceptual Art of Translation (2013). Prace Filologiczne. Literaturoznawstwo 3(6), part 1: Sadowski, Witold, and Kremer, Aleksandra (eds.): Sources of Verse, 107–124.

Wyobraźnia wyzwolona. Kubistyczny model przekładu literackiego [Imagination Set Free. The Cubist Model of Literary Translation] (2014). Poznańskie Studia Polonistyczne. Seria Literacka 23 (43): Kuczyńska-Koschany, Katarzyna, Kovacheva, Adriana, Jarzyna, Anita, and Rajewska, Ewa (eds.) Wyobraźnia w przekładzie, 81–100.

Ekwiwalencja tekstowa w teorii przekładu i wersologii [Textual Equivalence in Translation Theory and Verse Studies] (2013). In: Sadowski, Witold (ed.): Potencjał wiersza. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo IBL PAN, 137–159.

Przekład jako metonimia [Translation as Metonymy] (2012). Między oryginałem a przekładem 18: Brzozowski, Jerzy, and Bednarczyk, Anna (eds.): Dominanta a przekład. Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka, 59–73.

Przekład udomowiony w kulturze polskiej wczesnego modernizmu [Translation Domesticated in Polish Culture of Early Modernism] (2014). Między oryginałem a przekładem 26: Brzozowski, Jerzy, and Jastrzębska, Adriana. S. (eds.): Przekład w kulturze. Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka, 101–115.

Reminiscencja stylistyczna w przekładzie [Stylistic Reminiscence in Translation] (2015). Między oryginałem a przekładem 30: Brzozowski, Jerzy (ed.): Dylematy stylizacji w przekładzie. Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka (forthcoming).

Parnasistowski model przekładu literackiego (Antoni Lange, Walerij Briusow, Vladimir Nabokov) [The Parnassian Model of Literary Translation (Antoni Lange, Valery Bryusov, Vladimir Nabokov)] (2012). In: Fast, Piotr, and Pisarska, ← 9 | 10 → Justyna (eds.): Wielcy tłumacze. Katowice–Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Śląsk and Wyższa Szkoła Europejska im. ks. Józefa Tischnera, 1–23.

Przekład w imperium symbolizmu [Translation in the Symbolist Empire] (2013). In: Fast, Piotr, and Osadnik, Wacław (eds.): Przekład – kolonizacja czy szansa?. Katowice: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Śląsk and Stowarzyszenie Inicjatyw Wydawniczych, 7–41.

Kolaż, centon, ready-made jako techniki translatorskie [Collage, Cento, Ready-Made as Translation Techniques] (2014). In: Fast, Piotr (ed.): Strategie translatorskie. Od modernizmu do (post)postmodernizmu. Katowice: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Śląsk and Stowarzyszenie Inicjatyw Wydawniczych, 57–92.

Translators’ Thundering Voices. Vladimir Mayakovsky’s Nash Marsh in Polish and English Translations (2012). Przegląd Rusycystyczny 3 (139), 49–67.

Przekład modernistyczny (modele i opozycje) [Modernist Translation (Models and Oppositions)] (2015). In: Bolecki, Włodzimierz, Soliński, Wojciech and Gorczyński, Maciej (eds.): Współczesne dyskursy konfliktu: literatura – kultura – język. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo IBL PAN (forthcoming).

The Translational Turn in Modernism Studies. In: Adamowicz-Pośpiech, Agnieszka, and Mamet-Michalkiewicz, Marta (eds.): Translation in Culture. Katowice: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego (forthcoming).

I would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for permission to reproduce copyright material:

Clive Scott for permission to reproduce his English translations of Arthur Rimbaud’s Antique and À une Raison of Les Illuminations (Clive Scott (2006): Translating Rimbaud's Illuminations, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 45–46, 169–70).

Natalia Malinovskaia for permission to reproduce Anatoly Geleskul’s Russian translation of Guillaume Apollinaire’s Zakolotaia gorlinka i fontan.

Ewa Partum for permission to reproduce images of some of her art works for purposes of criticism: Active Poetry. Installation. Warsaw, 1971; poem by ewa. fragment W POSZUKIWANIU STRACONEGO CZASU Marcela Prousta, 1971; Text installation with music stands, National Museum, Warsaw 2001 (accessible in Angelika Stepken (ed.) (2001): Ewa Partum 1965–2001. Karlsruhe: Badischer Kunstverein, pp. 34, 37, 95) and for her photograph of ‘Installation Metapoetry “À la recherche du temps perdu” according to Marcel Proust.’ 18 Biennale of Sydney, Australia 2012.

Zbigniew Makarewicz for permission to reproduce his concrete poem tekst, 1971 (Stanisław Dróżdż (ed.) (1978): Poezja konkretna. Wybór tekstów polskich ← 10 | 11 → oraz dokumentacja z lat 1967–1977. Wrocław: Socjalistyczny Związek Studentów Polskich, 41).

Świat Książki for Guillaume Apollinaire’s Zasztyletowana gołębica i wodotrysk. Trans. Maciej Żurowski, 1984 (Guillaume Apollinaire (2010): Wybór wierszy. Selection and Afterword by Julia Hartwig. Warszawa: Świat Książki, 169).

The Regents of the University of California for an excerpt from Hugh Kenner’s The Pound Era (1971): Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 139 and Guillaume Apollinaire’s The Bleeding-Heart Dove and the Fountain in the English translation by Anne H. Greet (Guillaume Apollinaire (1980): Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War (1913–1916). Trans. Anne H. Greet. With an Introduction by S. I. Lockerbie and Commentary by Anne H. Greet and S. I. Lockerbie. Berkeley – Los Angeles – London: University of California Press, 123).

Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyright material. The author apologizes for any errors or omissions in the above list and would be grateful for notification of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book. ← 11 | 12 →

← 12 | 13 →


In recent years, the long underexplored interfaces between Translation Studies and the new historiographies of Modernism have provided unusually productive terrain for a number of far-reaching methodological and conceptual developments, including the notion of translation as a separate discourse within Modernism and Modernism studies as translation studies. However, notwithstanding the recently proclaimed ‘transnational turn’ in ‘New Modernist Studies’ (see Mao and Walkowitz 2008: 738–739) and the increasingly visible explorations of alternative, non-Western and non-Eurocentric literary traditions in Translation Studies (see, e.g. Doorslaer and Flynn 2013), there still remains a need to refocus and rebalance Western Eurocentric research on literary translation from the viewpoint of Eastern European Modernisms. While these cultural regions have plenty to contribute to the multidisciplinary assessment of Modernist translation, they remain, for a variety of historical-cultural and political reasons, largely underrepresented in the field of Translation Studies.

The aim of this monograph is to address this gap within the field of translation- oriented Modernism studies and to revise the notion of Modernist translation with regard to ‘Europe’s internal other,’ as Brian James Baer refers to Eastern European and Russian translation cultures (Baer 2011: 1). By introducing Eastern European literary cultures into the current discussion of translational Modernisms, this book is intended to contribute to the scholarly mapping of translation in the tradition of Maurice Friedberg’s Literary Translation in Russia. A Cultural History (1997), Leon Burnett and Emily Lygo’s collection The Art of Accommodation. Literary Translation in Russia (2013) and Brian James Baer’s recent collection Contexts, Subtexts, Pretexts: Literary Translation in Eastern Europe and Russia (2011). These works are significant as they both de-centre Western notions of literary translation and integrate ‘the other Europe’ into the mainly Anglophone discourse of Translation Studies.

The historical comparative material has been restricted here to poetic translations in Polish, Russian, and Anglo-American literary Modernisms. However, provided that the adopted assumptions and the line of reasoning prove to be correct, the conclusions should be applicable to not only other (dramatic, prosaic) modes of translation, but also to other European literary Modernisms. The enormous subject of Modernist translation which has been necessarily constrained by the limits of my particular historical-literary competence and linguistic familiarities remains open to correction, revision and improvement by researchers ← 13 | 14 → working on, for example, Scandinavian Modernisms, Viennese Moderne and German literary Modernism which strongly influenced the development of European Modernist aesthetic models. Distant with respect to historical, cultural and geopolitical developments, the range of artistic practices and theoretical ideas within various ‘geomodernisms’1 both require a broad view and make methodological innovation possible. The overall aim here is not only to broaden research perspectives in geographical and historical terms to include Eastern European ‘cultures of translation’2, but also the methodological enrichment of translation-oriented Modernism studies, where a major challenge remains to identify an area of comparison between translation cultures which are not only distinct and diverse but also, in some respects, mutually antagonistic.

In dealing with this difficulty, the intention of this monograph is to provide a new framework for research on Modernist models of literary translation. This will entail the construction of a new terminological and conceptual network that will allow us to place the multifarious problems of Modernist translation in mutually distant national Modernisms within unified categories and within an integrated methodological perspective. The methodological thrust of the research lies precisely in reconciling and correlating anew the already accessible terminological languages of translation studies, national historiographies of Modernism and the history of Modernist art. In its constant back-and-forth movement through translations and back-translations of key examples illustrating each respective model, the monograph represents a search for common properties that would aid a thorough comprehension of the differences among the various cultures. This approach admittedly fails to account for the intensity and complexity of the multidirectional cultural exchange between national Modernisms, for socio-cultural and socio-political contexts, as well as for the uniqueness and idiosyncrasies of particular translations, the output of individual translators at various stages of their individual literary careers, and the particular phases of various national Modernisms. Nevertheless, it can certainly reveal the ‘dynamic architectonics’ (in Mikhail Bakhtin’s critical idiom3) of what is here to be understood by the term ‘Modernist translation’ – from the perspective of other European literary Modernisms.

This integrating and generalizing movement towards models of literary translation is by no means meant to efface or neutralize the multiplicity and ← 14 | 15 → heterogeneity of Modernism’s regional formulations and internal diversity. The main assumption underlying the present monograph is that Modernism needs to be considered as a plurale tantum. Following the suggestion of the Polish literary historian and theoretician Włodzimierz Bolecki, Modernism is defined as a ‘set of Modernisms, a peculiar configuration of permanently dialoguing, contradictory and mutually exclusive tendencies, phenomena, programs and attitudes, of which each and every one aspired to being the true marker of Modernism’ (Bolecki 2012: 8). With Bolecki, Modernism is understood here as a ‘dense web of relations between contradictory, and most often mutually exclusive responses to the problematic of the essence and consequences of modernity’ (ibid. :8). In this sense, Modernism becomes Modernity’s self-analysis and self-criticism.

In order better to identify the peculiar theoretical and methodological crux in which the proposed research found itself from the outset, Chapter 1: The Translational Turn in Modernist Studies presents a survey of the most recent, predominantly Western Eurocentric developments at the intersection of Translation Studies and Modernism studies from the ‘cultural turn’ in Translation Studies to the ‘translational turn’ in cultural studies. Chapter 2: Modernist Translation: Theses for Reconstruction aims then to provide a new conceptual and methodological framework for reconstructing Modernist models of literary translation, which derives its inspiration mainly from Eastern European (Czech, Slovak and Polish) schools of literary theory and translation studies – or, as Zuzana Jettmarová calls it, ‘the lesser-known tradition’ (2008). The detailed description of the respective models of literary translation in Polish, Russian, and Anglo-American geomodernisms will be presented in Chapter 3: Models and Oppositions. Chapter 4: Parodicity and the Evolution of Translation Models discusses the mutual relations between the reconstructed translational styles. Alternative terms for the description of the reconstructed models will be proposed in Chapter 4, devoted to The Tropology of Modernist Translation. The closing Chapter 6: Towards Postmodernism: Translation as Appropriation Art is intended to open the discussion out onto the ‘postmodern poetics of translation’ (see Preda 2001: 65) which has been a recent feature of Western translation discourses. ← 15 | 16 →

1 To use the term introduced by Laura Doyle and Laura Winkiel (2005).

2 To quote the term used by Stierstorfer and Gomille 2008.

3 See Liapunov 2004.

← 16 | 17 →


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (January)
Modernism tropics of translation parodicity estrangement Eastern-European literatures
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 374 pp., 14 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz (Author)

Tamara Brzostowska-Tereszkiewicz is Assistant Professor at the Department of Historical Poetics, Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences. Her research interests comprise Eastern European intellectual and cultural history, translation studies and comparative Modernism studies.


Title: Modernist Translation
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
376 pages