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The Art of Accommodation

Literary Translation in Russia

Series:

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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Natalia Olshanskaya Turgenev’s Letters on Translation

Extract

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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