Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

“Poetry vs Politics: Precarious Loyalties. Natalya Gorbanevskaya translating Czesław Miłosz from the Polish.”

Fri31  Mar12:45pm(15 mins)
Main Building Room 134


Zakhar Ishov1
1 University of Kansas, United States


As young talented poet coming of age in post-Stalinist Russia, Natalya Gorbanevskaya strived to break Soviet cultural self-insulation. As many of her like-minded contemporaries, she saw Poland as a Russia’s window to the West. Gorbanevskaya learned Polish to be able to get access to Western literature, but soon became passionate about Poland, especially its heroic wartime history and became fascinated by the Polish ethos of resistance. She sympathized with the struggle of the Polish poets and dissidents for liberation from Soviet domination, which went against the grain of Russian super-power patriotism. This led to her unique appreciation of the Polish poets such as Czesław Miłosz, among others. In my presentation I will discuss some important aesthetic and political issues involved with Gorbanevskaya’s translation into Russian of Czesław Miłosz’s "Traktat poeticzny" [Poetic Treatise] – his major book-long poem – a meditation on the history of Poland and on the tragic fate of his generation of Polish poets. Yet Polish and Russian poetries have different prosodic traditions. The paper explores how Gorbanevskaya’s political sympathies with the Polish cause, clashed with her loyalties toward Russian prosodic tradition, as exemplified by her translations from Miłosz.