Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Russian Literature Through the English Lens

Fri31  Mar12:30pm(15 mins)
Main Building Room 134
Mr Gaëtan Regniers


Gaëtan Regniers1
1 Ghent University, Belgium


Russian Literature Through the English Lens

During the 1850-1950 timeframe every self-respecting European periodical harvested large amounts of translated fiction, often in the form of serialized stories (so-called feuilletons). It comes as no surprise that Dutch newspapers were an avid consumer of translated Russian literature: a database of 2.239 translations of Russian literature published in 19th and 20th century Dutch newspapers vouches for the importance of these daily instalments of fiction. Before the 1930s the bulk of published Russian literature was not translated directly from Russian. Even though French and German were numerically more significant pivotal languages, stories, and novels by e.g., Alexander Pushkin, Vsevolod Garshin, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, and Maxim Gorky were translated from English translations or bear traces of an English ‘original’. In my paper I analyse the use of English translations of Russian literature as pivotal source-texts for Dutch newspaper translations, and the subsequent Englishness of some of these translations. Drawing on methodological tools from both Periodical Studies, Digital Humanities and Translation Studies I showcase what distant reading of big data and micro-analysis of translations can bring to discussions on the reception of Russian literature in periodicals in any given target culture.