TM2: Gleb Dmitrienko

A Bitter Taste of Defeat: The ‘Minor’ Path of the Soviet Literary Translation after the ‘Linguistic Turn’

Gleb Dmitrienko

Université de Montréal, Canada

Abstract: In recent years, the question of ‘minor-ness’ has been widely debated in the field of Translation Studies. After the acknowledgment of the paramount role of translation in establishing, sustaining and rebalancing relations of power, translation practices have been examined from different angles thus contributing to post-modern criticism of gender-related prejudices (Godard 1984) (von Flotow 1991) (Simon 1996), Eurocentric biases or hegemonic traditions (Cheyfitz 1991) (Niranjana 1992) (Bassnett and Trivedi 1999). However, despite recent efforts to broaden the spectre of theoretical approaches to translation in order to overcome traditional Eurocentrism and to avoid an excessive Westernization of the field, Translation Studies still seem to gravitate towards approaches build around ‘Western’ concepts, like Derridean deconstruction and différance (Arrojo 1992). At the same time, the paradigms originating outside of the theoretical mainstream of Western Translation Studies, such as those developed in Russia under Soviet rule, still face exclusion and fall into the gap between the West and the Rest (Hall 1996).

In our presentation, we propose to explore the Theory of Realistic Translation developed in the Soviet Union the early 1950s as an attempt to incorporate the official Soviet ideology into literary translation theory (Kashkin 1953,1954). Unimaginable outside the cultural doctrine of Socialist Realism, the Theory of Realistic Translation was soon defeated by the linguistic approach (Fedorov 1953) which, with personal support of Stalin, became the official theoretical framework for Soviet translation. Resulting from the defeat of “Realist” translation was the fact that almost all literary translation practices in the Soviet Union were pushed to the periphery of the Soviet literary system. In our presentation, we will examine these ‘minor’ translation practices, which in the context of the post-Stalinist Soviet State were almost equal to political dissidence.

Keywords: Translation Studies, Soviet Union, literary translation, realism in translation, minor practices

Bio: A translator and interpreter, a PhD in Linguistics (Russia), an MA in Translation (UdeM) and a PhD candidate in Translation at the Université de Montréal, I am majorly interested in history of translation in general and different translation and interpretation theories in particular. I am also inspired by translation pedagogy and didactics. Besides that, I find my interest in the research of translation under different types of constraints.