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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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Elena Zemskova Translators in the Soviet Writers’ Union: Pasternak’s Translations from Georgian Poe


ts and the Literary Process of the Mid-1930s This chapter is about people who became Soviet translators in the 1930s. It is a well-known fact that many of those members of the literary intelli- gentsia who stayed in Russia throughout the 1920s turned to translation as the only possible way to make a living. Up to the late 1950s, many already famous poets and intellectuals (e.g. Anna Akhmatova, Georgii Shengeli and, until their arrests in the mid-1930s, Osip Mandel’shtam, Boris Iarkho and Gustav Shpet), as well as younger figures, who had not yet seen their works published (e.g. Mariia Petrovykh or Arsenii Tarkovskii), engaged mainly in translations, very often from the languages of the Soviet Republics or Eastern languages, mostly using Russian interlinear glosses. For many of them, translation became the only route to socialization in the strict hierarchy of a totalitarian society. The majority of research into the history of translated literature in Russia has dealt with the principles and methods of translation, compara- tive analyses of the original and translated texts, as well as examining how original works by a given author have found ref lection in the style of his translations. This chapter takes the approach established in the late 1920s by Boris Eikhenbaum, one of the founders of Russian Formalism, who declared that the role of literature in the society of that time had changed so profoundly that ‘the question how to write has been if not replaced with, then at any rate complicated by, another...

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