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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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Aleksei Semenenko Identity, Canon and Translation: Hamlets by Polevoi and Pasternak


The translation of canonical texts seems thus far to have escaped academic scrutiny: seen as marginal and probably irrelevant, little has been writ- ten on it as a separate theoretical problem. Nevertheless, the question of canon translation actualizes the opposition of target-culture oriented and source-culture oriented approaches to translation, which in turn raises the question of the relation of the translation to its original. Does translation replace the original or just create an ‘image’ of it? Can the translation be ‘better’ than the original? Can we compare these two texts at all? It is hard to find any translation analysis that would not involve the comparison of the target text with the source text: the connection between them seems to be the most natural point of departure of any evaluation of a translation. But even at this point it appears that all translations are dif ferent in the way they relate to their originals. It seems that we first have to distinguish between two large groups of texts: artistic and non-artistic (it should be noted that this opposition is rather schematic and presents the extremes of the contrasting poles; in reality, the boundary separating non-artistic and artistic texts from one another is not static but dynamic and recipient-specific). In the case of non-artistic texts, the adequacy and correctness of the translation are vital. If the instructions for, say, a TV set are poorly translated, I will probably not be able to operate my TV set; if I misunderstand a legal...

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