Romantic Means to Revivalist Ends: Celakovsky, Hanka, and the Translation of Russian Sources

Rachel Harrell, University of Michigan

The primary goal of translation during the Czech National Revival of the early nineteenth century was to present Czech as a perfectly expressive, fully developed language. Translating from other Slavic languages provided one opportunity to assert the distinctiveness of Czech, but it also posed a hazard: with literary norms not yet fully re-established, the translator risked falling into a pan-Slavic muddle, with words and syntax of the source language blending into the idealized literary Czech he was aiming for. In the essay, "O Ruznen╠ cesk╚ho P╠semn╠ho Jazyka," Josef Jungmann warns that the use of regionalisms and words from other Slavic sources may undermine the whole Revivalist project. Despite this warning, the second generation of the Revival--Frantishek Ladislav Celakovskyą and VĚclav Hanka, in particular--continued to look to Slavic sources. Influenced by the Romantic approaches to translation then current throughout Europe, both aspired to a style of translation that would preserve the national character and "foreignness" of the original, while still upholding the language-building goals set by Jungmann and his contemporaries. Celakovsky's and Hanka's attempts to turn Romantic sensibilities to Revivalist ends led them to apply strikingly different methods to very similar material. Both translated folk songs and epics of other Slavic peoples, but Celakovsky chose an adaptive translation style in which his authorial presence was constantly felt, while Hanka strove for a more self-effacing literalism. Both translators allowed the language of the source text to intrude to a marked degree, though Celakovsky presented this as a matter of stylization, while for Hanka it represented an attempt at ethnographic accuracy. The two quarrelled in the pages of the Casopis cesk╚ho Musea, each accusing the other of distorting Czech in his zeal to convey the national distinctiveness of the other Slavic peoples.

Against the background of Jungmann's programmatic statements and his own translation of the Igor' Tale, this paper will examine the translation tactics exemplified in Celakovsky's Ohlas P╠sn╠ Ruskych and Hanka's Igor Svatoslavic and the ways in which their divergent uses of russisms both supported and frustrated the Revivalist ideal.