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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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Alexei Evstratov Drama Translation in Eighteenth-Century Russia: Masters and Servants on the Court S


tage in the 1760s In the age of Russian modernization, translation was the leading tool of cultural transfer. It was so central to the project of modernization, that to give a detailed account of the translation theory and practice in eighteenth- century Russia would mean to write a cultural history of the epoch. Many translators were prominent writers (including Vasilii Trediakovskii and Vladimir Lukin, whose work is the subject of this chapter), and many writers considered translation as a major literary experiment very close to original writing.1 Literary scholars of the eighteenth century have sought to recover what was translated, who was translating, and how and why they approached their work.2 And while we have now suf ficient data about the questions ‘who’ and ‘what’, the existing general interpretations of ‘how’ and ‘why’ are still wanting. Iurii Levin, for instance, describes the transla- tions made during the period in predominantly negative terms: they are not accurate, they demonstrate a lack of style, and there is a gap between translation theories and practice.3 In comparison with translation in later 1 Grigorii Gukovskii, in a well-known article, bases his definition of Russian classicism on a study of the translation practice of such writers as Trediakovskii, Lomonosov, and Sumarokov. ‘K voprosu o russkom klassitsizme. (Sostiazaniia i perevody)’, Poetika, vyp. IV (Leningrad: Academia, 1928), 126–48; see the recent edition in G. A. Gukovskii, Rannie raboty po istorii russkoi poezii XVIII veka (Moscow: Iazyki russkoi kul’tury, 2001), 251–76. 2 For the most...

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