This article deals with problems concerning literature translation. It concerns the translation of a poetic fragment introducing the second part of Notes from Underground. A certain number of English translations are examined here that were created between 1913 and 2014; the main points of the examination are their fidelity to the Russian original (its strophic and rhythmic structure, artistic and stylistic features) and to the form given to the poetic extract by Dostoevsky (fragmentariness, attribution) and also the accompanying commentary, if present. This is another difficulty for the translator, because for the English-speaking readers the epigraph “from N.A. Nekrasov’s poetry” is a fragment from a poem totally unknown for them and not previously loaded, in their opinion, by any allusions. We can trace a certain tendency — from a poem written by a translator himself/ herself and rendering rather spirit than letter of the original, to the best of a translator’s belief, to the variants allowing the readers come close to the original text. It is stated that the commentary, on the one side, promotes an understanding of a work created in a different era and culture, but, on the other side, it can interfere with the perception by trivializing the meaning and accomplishing the text interpretation instead of a reader.
Information about the author:
Valentina S. Sergeeva, PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.