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Great Britain and Russia translating each other: The role of literary translations in Anglo-Russian relations in the nineteenth century

Yulia Viktorovna Levchenko, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation is a literary, cultural, and theoretical analysis of selected British and Russian nineteenth-century poetry and prose and their translations in the context of complex political relations between the two empires that are often referred to as “the Great Game.” The first chapter of the dissertation is historical analysis of Anglo-Russian relations in the nineteenth century that sets the stage for the rest of the text by revealing foreign policies that stemmed from and impacted not only political but also cultural differences between the two empires. The second chapter analyzes Britain’s need to understand motives and implications of Russia’s foreign policies through acquisition of information about Russia and its people and by reporting the findings to the British reading public in books as well as the more immediate and timely medium of periodicals, specifically, The Foreign Quarterly Review. This part of the dissertation considers British understanding of Russia as a culturally inferior nation whose literature sufficed only as a source of information. The third chapter uses the example of one of the outstanding works of Russian literature, Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time [special characters omitted] and argues that British translators exoticized and disparaged Russian literature as a part of the appropriating approach to translation, which resulted in construction of a distorted picture of Russian literature for the British audience. The last chapter is devoted to the Russian understanding and reception of British literature on the example of two authors, Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth. As Russia’s political ambitions were growing, so were its literary ambitions. In the beginning of the nineteenth century Russian writers often prioritized translations and treated them as sources of inspiration for their own works. This chapter compares and contrasts the works of male and female translators and argues that their unique choices as well as skill and creative powers defined the landscape of British Romanticism for the Russian readers.

Subject Area

Literature|British and Irish literature|Russian history

Recommended Citation

Levchenko, Yulia Viktorovna, "Great Britain and Russia translating each other: The role of literary translations in Anglo-Russian relations in the nineteenth century" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3717085.