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Shakespeare's sonnets in Russian: the challenge of translation
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets have become the interest of several generations of Russian translators. Overall, after their first appearance in the middle of the nineteenth century, at least thirty-five Russian translations of the complete sonnet collection have been produced so far, though mostly during the last three decades. The overall objective of the present thesis is to examine the evolution of Russian translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets over the years. The thesis is novel in that it offers an analysis of specific linguistic, literary and cultural challenges the numerous Russian translators have dealt with while translating the sonnets, as well as the strategies adopted in an effort to resolve them.

In order to achieve the study objectives, several individual sonnets and a number of their Russian translations have been selected as a sample representing challenging areas that have been more closely investigated in four articles. The method of cross comparison has been applied throughout the study. Both the introductory part and the articles address certain problematic translation issues, such as the sonnets’ formal structure, the pronouns of address, grammatical gender, bawdy language, sexual puns, culture-specific items, and metaphors.

The results provide evidence for seeing translation as a multi-layered and ever-changing process, which, apart from the pure linguistic tasks, combines historical, political and ideological aspects. The findings of the study suggest that translation competence, namely deep understanding of the context and its fundamental cultural and social features, motivates the translator’s interpretation of the contradictions and uncertainties of Shakespeare’s poems. Those include the sonnets genre, relation to Shakespeare’s biography, the order of the poems in the first 1609 Quarto. The analysis also identifies the ways in which the target language’s social and historical context have had an impact on the choices made by the translators.

On the whole, the study’s results do not contradict Mikhail Gasparov’s model describing the pendulum-like movement from “free” to “literal” approaches through the history of Russian literary translation.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University , 2017. , 123 p.
Series
Umeå studies in language and literature, 37
Keyword [en]
Shakespeare, translation, sonnets, Russian
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-134792ISBN: 978-91-7601-681-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-134792DiVA: diva2:1094961
Public defence
2017-06-09, Hörsal 1031, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Humanioragränd 5, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-18 Created: 2017-05-11 Last updated: 2017-05-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. "...thou, my Rose,...": Translating the Direct Address of Shakespeare's Sonnet into Russian
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"...thou, my Rose,...": Translating the Direct Address of Shakespeare's Sonnet into Russian
2012 (English)In: Domestication and Foreignization in Translation Studies / [ed] Hannu Kemppanen, Marja Jänis, Alexandra Belikova, Berlin: Frank & Timme , 2012, 159-176 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Shakespeare's Sonnet 109 belongs to the large group of sonnets that seem to be addressed to an unnamed young nobleman. the poet addresses his beloved friend as 'thou, my Rose' in the couplet of Sonnet 109. the main problem encountered in the couplet is posed by the contradiction between a feminine grammatical gender of the target noun rosa in the Russian language, on the one hand, and a male addressee, on the other. the couplet has challenged Russian translators in different ways and I analyze this in the light of the dichotomy foreignization/domestication. Fourteen translations of the sonnet have been considered. Translators had to choose one of the strategies (domesticating, foreignizing, and a third strategy that combines both characteristics) in their approach to solving the problem. the result shows that almost all of the interpretations contain a certain degree of domestication which means that this strategy has been the most pervasive in the history of the sonnet's translation into the Russian language.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2012
Series
TRANSÜD. Arbeiten zur Theorie und Praxis des Übersetzens und Dolmetschens, ISSN 1438-2636 ; 46
Keyword
translation, Shakespeare, foreignisation, domestication
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Linguistics; Slavic Languages
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-58487 (URN)978-3-86596-403-8 (ISBN)
Available from: 2012-08-31 Created: 2012-08-31 Last updated: 2017-05-17Bibliographically approved
2. Shakespeare's 'Will sonnets' in Russian: The challenge of translating sexual puns
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Shakespeare's 'Will sonnets' in Russian: The challenge of translating sexual puns
2016 (English)In: Translation and Interpreting Studies, ISSN 1932-2798, E-ISSN 1876-2700, Vol. 11, no 1, 44-63 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines strategies implemented by Russian translators of Shakespeare’s sonnets 135 and 136 when dealing with puns on the word “will” in various senses. Seven translations spanning the period from 1880 to 2011 have been selected for analysis. These renderings of Shakespearian pun exhibit a wide range of translation strategies and various effects within the target texts. The analysis demonstrates that the majority of the selected translations reflect social taboos and censorship with regard to sexuality in Russian translated literature. However, two recent translations containing sexual allusions indicate changing norms in the post-Soviet period. Thus, translation of sexual puns may also be illustrative of the ways in which the target language’s norms influence the translators’ choices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2016
Keyword
translation, Shakespeare, sonnets, pun, wordplay, Russian, sexual
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-118892 (URN)10.1075/tis.11.1.03ras (DOI)000376440000004 ()
Available from: 2016-04-06 Created: 2016-04-06 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved
3. Translating Culture-Specific Items: the Legal Terminology of Shakespeare's Sonnet 46 in Russian Translations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Translating Culture-Specific Items: the Legal Terminology of Shakespeare's Sonnet 46 in Russian Translations
2016 (English)In: Slovo: Journal of Slavic Languages, Literatures and Cultures , ISSN 2001-7395, Vol. 57, 60-77 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A discussion of how to translate words with cultural implications from the source language into the target language text has been ongoing for a long time. It is well established within Shakespeare commentary that the culture-specific items used by Shakespeare in the Sonnets reflect the range of social institutions in Elizabethan England, for example, the legal system. Legal terminology is used especially frequently by Shakespeare in the sonnet cycle and plays an important role in its imagery. In translations of the sonnets, this particular feature presents Russian translators with specific difficulties. This paper aims to examine those difficulties and looks at the translation strategies applied within eleven Russian translations of Sonnet 46, which employs a great amount of legal terminology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala universitet, 2016
Keyword
Shakespeare, sonnets, translation, Russian, culture-specific items
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-130388 (URN)
Available from: 2017-01-18 Created: 2017-01-18 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved
4. The Language of Alchemy: Translating Alchemical Metaphors of Shakespeare’s Sonnets into Russian
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Language of Alchemy: Translating Alchemical Metaphors of Shakespeare’s Sonnets into Russian
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A discussion of how to translate words with cultural implications from the source language into the target language text has been present for a long time. Alchemy, as a philosophical system and as an art of change and transformation, flourished from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance and the seventeenth century. Alchemical imagery plays an important role in many of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In this paper, my intention is to examine ten Russian translations of two particular sonnets, 119 and 33, that both deal with the theme of alchemy but in different ways, which, in turn, would pose different translation problems for translators. Sonnet 119 describes in technical detail the process of distillation, specifying devices and methods. Another sonnet, 33, is organized as an extended alchemical metaphor, although without using any special terminology. I discuss the concept of metaphor from different perspectives and the translation strategies that might be applied when translating metaphors from the source language into the target language. I attempt to trace and define the strategies used in translation of the alchemical metaphor identified in Sonnet 33 in order to see how the Russian translators have handled the problems posed by it, and what effect it has had on the target texts.

Keyword
Shakespeare, Russian, translation, sonnets
National Category
Specific Languages General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-134780 (URN)
Available from: 2017-05-11 Created: 2017-05-11 Last updated: 2017-05-11

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