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The Art of Accommodation

Literary Translation in Russia


Edited By Leon Burnett and Emily Lygo

This collection of essays is a seminal contribution to the establishment of translation theory within the field of Russian literature and culture. It brings together the work of established academics and younger scholars from the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, Sweden and France in an area of academic study that has been largely neglected in the Anglophone world. The essays in the volume are linked by the conviction that the introduction of any new text into a host culture should always be considered in conjunction with adjustments to prevailing conventions within that culture. The case studies in the collection, which cover literary translation in Russia from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century, demonstrate how Russian culture has interpreted and accommodated translated texts, and how translators and publishers have used translation as a means of responding to the literary, social and political conditions of their times. In integrating research in the area of translated works more closely into the study of Russian literature and culture generally, this publication represents an important development in current research.


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Leon Burnett and Emily Lygo The Art of Accommodation: Introduction


Literary translation refers to a process by which a work of foreign origin is accommodated within a host culture. As such, it is part, but always only part, of the process of cultural assimilation. Translation does not occur in a vacuum. In all countries and cultures and, indeed, in all literary periods within cultures, there are local variations in the ways that the process of literary translation and consequently its product may be regarded. Russia is no exception to the rule. The assimilation of the literary works of other nations has been, and continues to be, an essential element in the establish- ment of its national identity, politically, socially and culturally. In Russia, works of foreign literature have, at times, been taken as models and, at other times, been used as a foil to demonstrate the undesirable, but how- ever viewed, the act of receiving and responding to foreign texts has been integral to the literary process. No comprehensive study of Russia can af ford to ignore the contribution made by translators and translation in the development of its literature, and concomitantly in the evolution of its cultural and social identity. The volume does not present a chronological account of literary trans- lation in Russia: this has already been established. Iurii Levin’s Istoriia russkoi perevodnoi khudozhestvennoi literatury and Russkie perevodchiki XIX veka i razvitie khudozhestvennogo perevoda cover the period up to the end of the nineteenth century, and Maurice Friedberg’s Literary Translation in Russia provides an historical introduction to translation...

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