Literary Translation in Russia
Natalia Olshanskaya Turgenev’s Letters on Translation
By the second half of the nineteenth century, letters as an independent literary genre occupied an important place on the Russian literary scene. As in the European tradition, they not only became an important step in the development of the novelistic genre, but also acquired a growing role as political manifestos, pamphlets, proclamations, and mechanisms of literary and philosophical exchanges among Russian intellectuals. In this respect, Turgenev’s letters were not an exception. Covering more than fifty years from 1831 until his death in 1883, his surviving corre- spondence, including more than seven thousand published letters, ref lects his views on many major political and cultural events of the nineteenth century. As a result of Turgenev’s ties to many inf luential literary figures in Russia, France, England and Germany, his letters provide additional valu- able information about little known facts concerning the cultural exchange between Russia and Western Europe, and in particular about the specific mechanisms of literary exchanges via translation. The importance of Turgenev’s correspondence was recognized already during his lifetime, when occasional, mostly unsuccessful attempts to pub- lish several of his letters were made. Some letters appeared in print soon after his death, and in 1884 the first collection of 488 of his letters was published in Russia. This first publication seemed controversial to many of his friends and contemporaries. The editors of the volume were criti- cized for their selection of letters, for the breach of privacy and for inad- equate editorial work.1 Despite this criticism, it attracted...
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