Sex, Lies, and Red Tape: Ideological and Political Barriers in Soviet Translation of Cold War American Satire, 1964-1988

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My thesis investigates the various ideological and political forces that placed pressures on cultural producers, specifically translators in the U.S.S.R., during the Era of Stagnation (1964-1988). In Chapter 1, I examine Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut’s use of black humour and their reception in the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, describe my personal encounter with Soviet translations of the two authors’ texts, outline the current critical debates, and examine Western reactions to the Soviet translations. In Chapter 2, I contrast tsarist and Soviet censorship and U.S. and Soviet censure of undesirable works, describe the creation and operation of Voenizdat, Glavlit, Goskomizdat, and the resulting Kafkaesque culture-producing machine, identify the problem of sex in Russian and Soviet literature, discuss the problems of Soviet book production in relation to Heller and Vonnegut’s works, analyze the censorial peritexts of their novels, assess the means of resistance to Soviet state publishing (including samizdat, tamizdat, Aesopian language, and pseudotranslation), and discuss the death of the original. In Chapter 3, I provide a brief overview of Russian translation theory in the 1800s, outline the development of the schools and movements of Russian and Soviet translation studies, appraise Ivan Kashkin’s role in the incorporation of the principles of socialist realism into Soviet translation theory, outline the schools and movements of Western translation studies, appraise Lawrence Venuti’s role in the incorporation of the principles of visibility, resistancy, and foreignization into Western translation theory, and provide a set of best practices for reading and evaluating a translation. In Chapter 4, I test various translators’ complicity with the Soviet system by comparing the lexical, semantic, and idiomatic equivalence of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions and their translations by Rita Rait, and perform a thought experiment by disregarding the original text of Heller’s Catch-22 and comparing five of its Russian translations (by three different translators) to each other. In Chapter 5, I examine the regression of post-Soviet translation studies to former positions, trace its future developments, provide examples of effective translations and original texts that employ strategies conducive to such translations, and weigh the question of canon in relation to the production of new translated texts.
Language--Modern, Literature--American, History--Russian and Soviet
Khmelnitsky, M. (2015). Sex, Lies, and Red Tape: Ideological and Political Barriers in Soviet Translation of Cold War American Satire, 1964-1988 (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/27766