Between Displacement and Political ‘Weaponization’: Translation and Reception of First-Wave Russian Émigré Philosophers

Sun10  Apr09:03am(10 mins)
Umney Lounge


Emily Lygo, Gabriele Salciute Civiliene


When Russian philosophers were forced into exile in 1922, they were forced out of the context of the Russian philosophical tradition, and were only partially and disparately appreciated and assimilated across Europe and across languages. Now in the post-Soviet period their ideas and positions have been revived and set to use in Russia. This paper asks to what extent the current political construction and consumption of the ideas of these thinkers is grounded in textual history. It will examine case studies from Berdyaev and Ilyin to investigate how their ideas of spirituality, as an alternative to the humanitarian crisis of their time, were received, assimilated, and consumed in their own time in exile, and in the post-Soviet present. It will focus specifically on the question of how Western translations have dealt with the religious aspects of Russian philosophical texts: to what extent are the themes of spirituality domesticated by translators or ‘foreignized’ as alien to the Western philosophical traditions, dominated by secular thinking.

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