November 19, 2014 by AK
I have commented on Argumentative Old Git‘s post on Shakespeare performances outside Britain. Preti Taneja’s call in The Guardian, “It’s time to break the national monopoly on Shakespeare,” is two centuries late. Maybe more. Russia was a latecomer to the fest but as early as 1837, Pavel Mochalov created an exemplary Russian Romantic Hamlet at the Maly Theater.
As I wrote in the comments, the Russian Wiki entry on Hamlet lists 32 translations of the play into Russian – not all complete, not all in verse, but one translation in 6.25 years! The two canonical ones, Lozinsky’s and Pasternak’s, are relatively recent, from 1933 and 1940. The reason for this post is one line by Lozinsky, “Пращи и стрелы яростной судьбы”, a word-by-word translation, amazingly, of “The slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune.”
Why did he choose яростный for “outrageous”? Simply because the metric pattern fits and technically, the modern sense “violent or unrestrained in behaviour or temperament” is pretty close to the Russian word? Lozinsky – held by Akhmatova and others to be Zhukovsky’s equal in the art of translation – knew his French well and, therefore, realized that “outrage” is derived from outré and ultimately from ultra and is akin to French outrage. That’s all well but I suspect Lozinsky realized it was impossible for an English reader not to parse, if naively, “outrage” as “out-rage”, so “rage” cannot be evicted from “outrage” – and “rage” is properly translated as ярость.
Then I found out that Lozinsky’s fortunate find, яростная судьба, took on a life of its own in Russian poetic translation. To be continued.