About the author:
Serge Rolet, DSc in Philology, Professor of Russian Literature, Faculty of Foreign Languages, University of Lille, France.
The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project no 18-52-15031 НЦНИ аnd the FICUSOV Joint Research Project 1917–1941 (Financing of Soviet Culture) CNRS — UMR Eur’ORBEM.
What was the reason for publishing an old translation of “Eugénie Grandet” that has not been published since 1918, while there exist two newer translations? In this edition of “Eugénie Grandet” L. Grossman is liberated from the editorial direction, advertised by “Academia”. This translated version is not canonical, the translation is not up to modern standards, the text is detached from the scientific apparatus, etc. Grossman intends to prove that publishing an old translation of the novel has its merit, despite the fact that it inherits the traits of a bygone era and is widely considered outdated. In this context the preface by Grib (that precedes Grossman’s article) served to prove that a contemporary, “proletariat” edition of “Eugénie Grandet” could be completed using the translation from the previous era. Using Grib’s introductory article, Grossman shifts the attention to the translator, who usually stays out of sight. Now it is almost like the original text is serving the translation, not the other way around. As a matter of fact, Grossman, a well-known scholar of Dostoevsky, was only interested in Balzac due to his influence on the genesis of the Russian classic’s art. According to Grossman, the translation is unparalleled, but that is due to the creativity and sheer force of its style rather than its precision in following Balzac’s original. The fusion of the author and the translator’s styles gives more value to the translation than the limited attempt at precise interpretation. The attention that this translation received derives not from its connection to the original, but rather from the urge to understand the extent to which Balzac’s novel influenced Dostoevsky. It is safe to assume that the influence of “Eugénie Grandet” on Dostoevsky was of interest to a very narrow circle of scholars. Therefore, it seems possible that the reasons for this were of the same nature as the reasons that Dostoevsky had for translating the novel in the first place: the material interests of the editor might have been the deciding factor.