Pushkin on Grafton Street: Translating Russian Literature into Irish
|Starts:||13:00 11 Feb 2021|
|Ends:||14:30 11 Feb 2021|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Arts, Languages and Cultures|
|Who is it for:||University staff, External researchers, Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public|
Why would anyone translate Russian literature into the Irish language? Given that authors, translators and publishers deplore the lack of readers for translated fiction in English, how can a language with approximately 70,000 native speakers provide a viable market for one of the world’s great literatures? This paper will contend that Russian-Irish literary translation has never been about commercial success: rather, it is an exercise in linguistic and cultural ambition. Beginning during the early twentieth-century Gaelic Revival as proof that Irish possessed the necessary depth of nuance and flexibility for translating contemporary global literature, Irish-language educators and enthusiasts published Irish versions of short fiction by Tolstoy and Chekhov in nationalist periodicals such as An Claidheamh Soluis Sword of Light, its successor Misneach Courage, and The National Student. Following the creation in 1925 of An Gúm Project, a state-funded publishing house for the promotion of Irish-language culture, translation became a political exercise in the acquisition of cultural capital: works of world literature were translated into Irish from their original languages, including several anthologies by classic Russian authors, at a financial loss in order to demonstrate Ireland’s cultural parity with other European nations. Why would individual translators dedicate themselves to such an apparently niche pursuit? I will discuss the inspirations and motivations for Irish translators of Russian authors from Pushkin to Pelevin, from the institution of An Gúm to the present day. Following Venuti (1995) and Casanova (2002), I present the Russian-Irish relationship as a case study in literary translation as cultural self-promotion.
Organisation: University of Exeter, UK
Biography: Muireann Maguire is Senior Lecturer in Russian at the University of Exeter, and the author of Stalin’s Ghosts: Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature (Peter Lang, 2012), a study of Gothic-fantastic motifs in early Soviet literature. She is currently working on a second monograph about the depiction of maternity in Russian 19th and 20th century fiction, Hideous Agonies: Plotting Pregnancy in Russian Literature. She is also a freelance translator from Russian. Muireann is PI on an ERC-funded Horizon 2020 grant, “RusTrans: The Dark Side of Translation: 20th and 21st Century Translation from Russian as a Political Phenomenon in the UK, Ireland, and the USA”. This seminar paper is based on early findings of RusTrans research.
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