Shakespeare in Russian Cultural Consciousness in the 20th Century
Shakespeare in Russian Cultural Consciousness in the 20th Century
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The essay outlines how Shakespeare’s work came to be known, translated and interpreted in Russia. The first acquaintance with his plays in the 18th — early 19th century required an intermediary, the role acted by French translations and much altered versions of the original. It was in the time of Alexander Pushkin that adequate Russian translations were published, played on stage, while Shakespeare was first viewed as a productive artistic model in whose tragedies and histories a political and moral standard was put up. Since then Shakespeare has been present in Russian cultural consciousness as an ‘‘eternal fellow-traveller’’. His plays in new translations and theatrical interpretations accompanied the most crucial and catastrophic events in the 20th century Russia: revolution, Stalin’s terror and the so-called ‘‘thaw period’’ that followed it. The foremost Russian poets reflected on Shakespeare in their original verse, critical essays, or participated in his translation. The most important part in translating Shakespeare belongs to Boris Pasternak for whom his Shakespearian work was not only a means to survive and to earn his living but his message to people here and his attempt to be heard beyond the ‘‘iron curtain”. Marshak’s translation of the sonnets, in the last Stalin’s decade when new lyrical poetry was practically banned in print, served to transmit eternal feelings and enjoyed popularity unparalleled for translated verse.
About authors
Igor Shaytanov
Russian State University for the Humanities. Chief Editor of «Russian Studies in Literature» Journal («Voprosy Literatury»)