Authorial Voice in Translation: Three Centuries Of Russian Hamlet: From Petrine To Totalitarian Russia

Daria Shembel, University of Southern California

The purpose of my investigation is to examine different forms of authorial voice in the translation: i.e. addition to the text of the original by the translator his/her own ideological messages, political allusions; imposition of the translator's own style ("grammar of poetry") on the poetics of translation; representation of the translator's own interpretation of the work, distortion of the characters, the choice of domesticating tactics of translation etc. The analysis is based on the translations of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries by Sumarokov, Polevoj and Pasternak.

The paper deals with the tendency to use the tragedy for depicting national oppressors and rendering a certain political message by different national literatures of different epochs starting from 1734 version by Voltaire. Within the framework of this tendency I will explore how the translators distorted the original, emphasizing the social motifs, excluded from the text references to Denmark, inserted passages with apparent political allusions, which were absent in Shakespeare.

The paper examines how the individual interpretation of Hamlet by different translators reflects the mechanism of projection of their own life patterns on the protagonist (comp. the superfluous man Hamlet created by Polevoj who reflected in his character the spiritual drama of a man overcome by autocracy and a strong-willed, tough personage created by Pasternak, who maintained integrity against obedience, acquiescence in the corrupted system). A close reading of the soliloquy "to be or not to be" in different translations suggests to trace the connection between the semantic plane of the texts and manifestation of the authorial voice on the structural level. (The comparative semantic analysis of the translations and originals is based on the methods elaborated by Zholkovskij and Tarlinskaja.)

Studying the problem of imposition of the translator's individual style on the style of the original I examined the relationship between the original and Pasternak's translation at different linguistic levels, including the translation of tropes with the emphasis on the reproduction of semantics and structure of metaphors; the stylistic differentiation of the vocabulary in the process of translation on the example of analysis of the popular expressions; the reproduction of rhythmico-syntactic structure of the original with concentration on the translation of infinitival constructions, etc. The question of imposition by the translator of the stylistic system of the epoch in which the translation is created is also raised in the proposed paper.