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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: 'Red Books and Russian Agents: Behind the Scenes at Penguin's Russian Classics' (Dr Cathy McAteer)

14 November 2018

Time: 6:00pm
Speaker: Dr Cathy McAteer (Bristol)
Venue: ArtsOne 1.28


This paper examines Penguin’s twentieth-century re-launch of the nineteenth-century Russian literary canon. Drawing on previously untapped archival material (letters, memos, readers’ reports, reviews, adverts), this paper reveals a previously undisclosed ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at Russian-English literary translation in the mid-twentieth century. It offers new insight into Penguin Classics luminaries: Penguin founder Allen Lane, the editors EV Rieu and ASB Glover, and the early translators Elisaveta Fen, David Magarshack and Rosemary Edmonds, whose work also enjoyed frequent airings on national stage and in BBC Third Programme broadcasts. I will examine how these agents pooled their expertise and abilities to bring an accessible form of Russian literature to the mass lay reader. I will be drawing on archive- and text-based materials – a micro-historical approach, as advocated by Jeremy Munday – to explain how translators’ personal/professional backgrounds shaped their translation practice and, in doing so, determined the Anglophone reception of classic Russian literature for almost half a century.

Full programme here. 

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