Gulag translations and Cold War antinomies
Notes for a reflexive Translation Studies
Keywords:translation history, Gulag translations, Soviet translation theory, reflexive translation studies, Cold War historiography
This article examines the phenomenon of Gulag translations, or translations done by incarcerated political prisoners in the Soviet Union, and the discourse surrounding it in order to think past the traditional binary of official/dissident that has dominated western scholarship on communist culture for decades. Understanding the discursive overlap of official and non-official or intelligentsia discourse regarding Gulag translations suggests shared values and shared views on translation as noble, self-sacrificing work. This is not to say that the intelligentsia were necessarily mimicking official rhetoric but, more probably, that both official and intelligentsia discourse fed from a common discursive repertoire developed in the nineteenth century. The article highlights the need to evaluate translations and translation thinking within the specific socio-cultural context that produced it and in which it circulates.
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