Научная статья на тему 'Pages of English literature: still read or forgotten (from the history of culture and literature contacts of Russia and Britain)'

Pages of English literature: still read or forgotten (from the history of culture and literature contacts of Russia and Britain) Текст научной статьи по специальности «Языкознание и литературоведение»

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Аннотация научной статьи по языкознанию и литературоведению, автор научной работы — Novoseltseva Larisa A.

The author synopsizes the history of translations and compilations of the books by D. Defoe and S. Richardson in Russian from the end of the XVIII с. to the beginning of the XX c. The choice of these authors is determined by the fact that the novels by these writers of Enlightenment were very popular among the Russian readers of the first half of the XIX century. An attempt is undertaken to explain why S.Richardson’s novels became less attractive despite a lot of compilations, while D. Defoe’s novel has attracted not only attention of children and teenagers but also of adults.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Pages of English literature: still read or forgotten (from the history of culture and literature contacts of Russia and Britain)»



УДК 82.111

PAGES OF ENGLISH LITERATURE: STILL READ OR FORGOTTEN (from the history of culture and literature contacts of Russia and Britain)

Larisa A. Novoseltseva

Reader of Foreign Languages Department

Yelets State University named after I. A. Bunin

399770, Yelets, Kommunarov st., 39. inelsu@mail.ru

The author synopsizes the history of translations and compilations of the books by D. Defoe and S. Richardson in Russian from the end of the XVIII с. to the beginning of the XX century. The choice of these authors is determined by the fact that the novels by these writers of Enlightenment were very popular among the Russian readers of the first half of the XIX century. An attempt is undertaken to explain why S.Richardson's novels became less attractive despite a lot of compilations, while D. Defoe's novel has attracted not only attention of children and teenagers but also of adults.

Key words: English Enlightenment; the Robinsonade; sentimental novel; translations, remakes, compilations; interconnections and interactions of literatures.

The keen interest of the XVIII century Russian public to the English novel of Enlightenment was closely connected with the beginning of extensive translation activity in the country which took place at the second part of that age. First English journalism and then belles-lettres works were gaining popularity with Russian readers. The major works by D. Defoe, J. Swift, S. Richardson, H. Fielding, L. Sterne, O. Goldsmith and T. Smollett had been published in Russia by the end of XVIII century.

Having become known in a comparatively short period of time these books became widely read by the enlightened Russian people. Their popularity was stable during the first half of the XIX century, though they did not enjoy equal appeal to the public in different periods. The fame of many writers was maintained by the proximity of their esthetic and artistic principles to the ideas of European Enlightenment. It is also interesting to mention that both Defoe (1661-1731) and his famous character Robinson Crusoe (London, 1719) were referred to in a lot of these books as a notable symbol of that time and soon Robinson became a nickname.

The first novel of the English Enlightenment that became popular in our country was Robinson Crusoe by D. Defoe (1661-1731). While living on the island the main character of the book had to master the skills of a joiner and builder, potter and hunter, plowman and shipbuilder, miller and baker, gardener and fisherman, tailor and even military commander. In fact, the main character had to go through all the stages which the world civilization had to overcome

in the history of its development from gathering to cattle-breeding, and then from growing plants to building houses and boats.

The story is presented in a documentary way, true to the smallest details of Robinson's life on the island for 28 years. The narration of various labour processes and his adventures are quite captivating and instructive, that is why the book attracted children's attention very quickly. By the amount of its publications in European countries and in Russia it could rival the Bible and the works by Shakespeare.

But about half a century had passed (from 1719 to 1762) before it appeared in the Russian language. During that period it was read in French and German translations and in the original, but the amount of its Russian readers was limited, indeed. Common Russian readers could get the information of Robinson's life-story thanks to a flow of foreign "remakes" of the English Robinsonade (for example, by I. G. Kampe), compilations (by S. Shnabel, 1732; R. Patlock, 1751) and Russian abridgements (S. N. Glinka, 1819) which were published in those years.

Only in 1762 the novel was translated by Yakov Trusov (St. Petersburg) though not from the source language but from French. It became a starting point of the "Russian" history of D. Defoe. For a lot of people the main character created by the English writer turned out to be the embodiment of spiritual capability, physical endurance and inventiveness which were successfully embedded in the captivating plot combined with instructiveness. The story

© Novoseltseva Larisa A., 2014


became one of the favorite English books for Russian readers. It was retold and abridged for children's reading in the early XIX but its compiler Sergey Glynka changed the plot of the original so much that he completely spoiled the book. For common Russian public Defoe remained the author of only one, though it had been a widely read book until the end of the XIX century.

The first real translation of Robinson Crusoe was made from the English source text by P. A. Korsakov (1842, St. Petersburg), quite an experienced translator of English literature, and his work was welcomed by V. G. Belinsky. The progressive critic was fascinated by the English novel's main character that chose his own path in life following his dream and his vocation. Belinsky criticized some Russian compilers of Robinson's story who wanted to explain the tragic accident in the life of the literature hero as punishment for his former iniquitous behavior. In this book Belinsky found the proof of his own ideas about the necessity to follow one's calling and realize one's mission in life for a real citizen. There was a discussion (initiated by V. Belinsky in 1842) on the problem of authentic translation in such journals as Sovremennik, Russky Vestnik, Otetchestvenniye Zapisky, Literaturmaya Gazeta and some others.

In the middle of the XIX century we observe a flow of interest of the Russian democratic-thinking circles to the ideas of English Enlighteners. New translations of D. Defoe, J. Swift, H. Fielding, and S. Richardson were published at that period, among them there were The Adventures of Caleb Williams by W. Godwin (1838) that appeared in Russia for the first time. Only L. Sterne had not been translated anew up by the end of the XIX century, when the language of his numerous Russian translations of early decades (1801, 1803, 1807, and 1809) became quite old-fashioned.

A lot of the English novels published in the 40-60s were positively commented in the Russian literature journals of this period. As prof. M. N. Rozanov marked later, "the public was inspired by the optimistic spirit of the English Enlighteners" and amazed at the vast amount of democratic strata of the society depicted by those authors: "Richardson writes about the people of commerce, Sterne and Fielding create the characters of commons, Goldsmith describes the clergymen, Smollett pictures the world of sailors" [Rozanov 1914: 77].

The quality of Russian translations had improved by that time: most of them were made from the source text; there was not much Russianization of names and characters, the interpreters did not concede cuttings out from the source texts as it had been before. It facilitated the course of instillation of foreign literature in the local literary process. Many of those British authors found the ardent readers and

admirers among the Russian men-of-letters, who referred to D. Defoe, J. Swift, S. Richardson, L. Sterne and H. Fielding as teachers, using these names and the names of their characters as pseudonyms for their own literary works [Novoseltseva 2011: 84, 87].

The books by Defoe and Sterne attracted attention of the Great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in the 1860s (he even plunged into translating Sterne's source texts). Tolstoy was fascinated by the idea of Defoe to arrange an international colony on the Robinson's island that was in tune with his own thoughts about the destiny of Russian peasantry and country farmers' communities (in connection with abolishing the Serfdom in Russia in 1861). In 1862 a version of Robinson Crusoe for peasant children was published in his journal "Yasnaya Polyana" on his commission and under his editorship (№1-2). One more notable abridgement of the English book for Russian children was made at that time by N. Blinov (M., 1872).

About 50 years had passed since the last Russian publications of the English Enlighteners and their language needed renovation. 1880-1917 are rich in Russian translations of those writers who could prove their public importance for the Russians in the new era. By that time Sentimental literature had lost its aficionados, so we do not find any Russian translations of S. Richardson among those publications. There were no books by T. Smollett or W. Godwin either (though the latter would find the advocates of his communist ideas in Russia after the Revolution of 1917).

There were a lot of new translations of J. Swift (1884, 1889, 1891, and 1902), H. Fielding (1896), O. Goldsmith (1890, 1893), L. Sterne (1891, 1892). The former proved to be one of the most popular Enlightenment authors with our readers.

Many Russian translations and adaptations of Robinson's story appeared in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the late XIX-early XX centuries. They belonged to P. Kanchalovsky (1888), V. Vladimirov (1898), L. A. Murakhina (1900), M. K. Yesipova (1904), I. Vvedensky (general editorship, 1911), M. A. Shishmaryova and Z. N. Zhuravskaya (1902). All the authors of these translations declared their works to be done from the English source text; it was true only for the former and the latter, though. Besides, the work by P. Kanchalovsky was considered the best in the XIX century.

The interest to the author of Robinson Crusoe was growing in connection with a number of publications about him in the Russian literature journals of that time. At last the Russian public got an opportunity to read one more novel by D. Defoe in their native language which appeared on the growing flow of interest to the writer. The novel Fortunes and Misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders was warmly welcomed by the Russian critics in 1894.

At the end of the XIX - beginning of the XX centuries a lot of Russian versions of Robinson Crusoe for children were read in translations, abridgments, remakes, retellings, adaptations and compilations. The best of them was made by A. Annenskaya (1889), but dozens of others (about sixty, in fact, between 1870-1917) were published in both Russian capitals. The great commercial success of the book in Russia brought much profit to the owners of the Publishing Houses - I. D. Sytin, V. N. Marakuev, I. Sidorov, A. N. Morosov, some others. The name of Robinson put on the cover of the book always promised the acclaim of readers and profit (for ex., S. P. Lisytsin - a Russian Robinson by N. Sibiryakov, 1870). The genre of Robinsonade started by D. Defoe got its new form and the name of a travelogue in the XXI century. But we remember who its founder was.

Summing up the history of the "Russian Defoe" it is necessary to mention the translation of Robinson Crusoe by M. A. Shishmaryova and Z. N. Zhuravskaya (1902) which still serves the basis for a lot of its contemporary publications. And the best Russian adaptation of the English text for children's reading was made by the famous writer K. I. Chukovsky.

Getting down to another representative of the English literature of Enlightenment it is aptly to note one paradox. If one does not remember who wrote Robinson Crusoe, they almost for sure have read the book. Having forgotten the name of Swift everyone knows the name of his character Gulliver. But only an expert in literature would call you the name of the author of Pamela whose fame did not stand the test for time. The extreme popularity of S. Richardson (1689-1761), however, extended his cultural influence on the Russian public for two or three generations in the lifetime of A. Pushkin.

The fact that the writer was rather old-fashioned in his moral outlooks did not prevent him from becoming an innovator in his literary production. Richardson's novels gave rise to a new literary form - the epistolary novel - and to a new trend in the European literature of the XVIII century - Senti-mentalism (though, later it was named after the novel by L. Sterne A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, 1768).

Before Richardson's works were published in Russia the high society people had read them in the original and in French translation by Abbé Prévost. But by the information of V. V. Kostyukova, even an earlier Russian translation of Pamela (made by a certain retired captain I. V. Shishkin) was circulating as a handwritten copy in Moscow and St. Petersburg [Kostyukova 1993: 323]. All the three novels by the English writer were translated into Russian at the end of that century. Though, we cannot name these books real translations because their Russian authors

used the French texts instead of the original ones. Very soon Richardson's vision of life and his deep psychological insight captivated the Russian reader: both high society people and lower middle-class public equally enjoyed the epistolary love stories about Pamela and Clarissa which helped to shape new literary tastes and to promote the flourishing of Russian sentimentalist esthetics.

The first novel Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded is an instructive story of a pretty girl who is taken to the house of an old rich lady as a chamber-maid. Her mistress, a kind widow, is fond of the girl and teaches her to read, to write and to keep accounts. Suddenly the old lady dies and her son, Mr. B., becomes the girl's master. The gentleman falls in love with Pamela but he does not feel like getting married. He hopes to make the girl his mistress by force or slyness. Pamela resists his advances showing common sense, tolerance and inventiveness. At last her master gives in and asks the maid to marry him.

The story is not that primitive as it could seem. For the XVIII century reader Pamela became a symbol of triumph achieved by the girl of a lower social position over the man from the upper-middle class. The girl took the moral victory over her master demonstrating virtue and steadfastness, which helped Pamela overturn his soul and reform his character.

The book by Richardson was aimed at destroying the very basis of the prejudiced bourgeois society. It made a great influence on the lower and middle-class readers, which is proved by the fact that the novel was under a ban in some countries ( Italy, for instance). Thanks to it the writer got the fame of a democratically thinking author. The novel inspired a lot of imitations and was widely compiled not only in Britain, but all over Europe and Russia (P. U. Lyvov, "Antirichardson" A. I. Klushin, N. Emin and F. Emin, V. Lyovshin, N. Pogodin, V. Izmailov, G. Shalikhov and some others). However, we cannot deny that some readers considered the main character of the book too reasonable and luscious. It also gave some men-of-letters an idea of making a parody of the novel (H. Fielding, 1741: An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews).

The language of the Russian translation of Pamela was syntactically complicated, rhetoric, and lexically embellished. The sentence opening Pamela's first letter occupies one and a half page of the volume in folio. We can also mark the Russianization of certain proper names and the desire of the translator to explain the English national realities to the Russian readers (tea ceremony, Bath resort functioning, and some religion notions). But even at that time the language of the Russian text was criticized as old-fashioned.

The second epistolary novel by Richardson is his best and the longest literary production, it bears the

title "Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady" (1748). The correspondence of main characters of the book is rather abundant: the novel contains 8 volumes of letters (in folio) between Clarissa, Lovelace, their relatives and close friends.

This is the story of a young girl from a rich and arrogant family who falls in love with a young man who makes her unhappy, ruins her love and brings her to death. The novel was written to demonstrate the misfortunes caused by the wrong attitude both of the parents and the children to the question of wedlock. Clarissa, a beautiful young lady, is fond of a very attractive, clever and wealthy gentleman, Lovelace by name. But he has a very contradictive and fickle character: the young man can easily turn from generosity to cruelty and back. Clarissa's parents strongly oppose her feelings; they prefer another candidate to be her husband pursuing their own mercenary interests. They keep their daughter locked in her room as a prisoner.

In his letters Lovelace tries to persuade Clarissa to run away from home and at last she agrees. But the young man turned out to be rather immoral: he makes the girl his mistress by deception. It gave her the insight: she feels betrayed and cannot trust Lovelace any more. Though he regrets his action and asks her to marry him Clarissa turns him down. The girl cannot return home; the escape has spoilt her reputation completely. She is bitterly disappointed in her idol now; she falls ill and dies. Lovelace is in despair; he is looking for death. One of Clarissa's relatives kills him in a duel.

In his story the writer managed to demonstrate how the parents could turn into merciless tyrants of their children when the question of marriage was touched upon and what out-of-date and destructive methods they considered suitable for achieving their aim. The book was a tremendous success not only in England but all over Europe and especially in Russia. There was not any private library in our country where that novel could not be found in English, French or Russian. Richardson's novel was compiled by many authors though none of them managed to penetrate so deeply in the utmost recesses of the human heart, especially that of a woman.

But a lot of young ladies were apt to forgive the faults of Lovelace to blame Clarissa for her excessive discretion and frigidness. They believed the most tragic role in her fate had been played by her parents. The writer was worried by the fact that a number of his women-readers had found the character of Lovelace fascinating, charming, and highspiritual which was quite contrary to the intentions of the author. Lovelace became one of those rare literature types whose proper name turned into a nominal one. That was the reason why the writer decided to take revenge for the image of Lovelace and to create the character of an ideal English gen-

tleman. But his third novel The History of Sir Charles Grandison turned out to be too long and boring, though the name of Richardson on the cover of the book still meant very much to the hearts of his admirers.

The genre novelty of Richardson's works was based on the first person speech in the letters -a device extrapolated by him onto all the characters of the novel which made the narration polyphonic, sounding more like the drama language. At the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries Richardson's novels helped to shape both the literature taste and the world outlook of the Russian public. His "preaches" on morality in the bourgeois society fertilized the cultivated land of the Russian literary process. On the one hand, those were the years of the intensive development of Sentimentalism in our literature; on the other hand, because of the imperfect theory and practice of translation (and to some extent subjecting to the taste of the translators) the author of Clarissa turned into a purely sentimental writer for the Russian readers though, his second novel proves the fact that it was not quite correct. His understanding of the role of a woman in the family and in the society was much broader and could not be exhausted by sentimental ideas.

The language of the Russian translation of Clarissa was criticized by N. M. Karamzin who believed that a cultured person like Ann Howe (Clarissa's girl-friend) could not have spoken such an archaic language with the artificial elation and false pomposity which distinguished her letters according to the translator. Karamzin decided to send the novel back to the book-seller in indignation. We can add to the point in question that Lovelace from this translation also expressed his feelings like a salesman from a small country fashion-shop. But despite those drawbacks of the translation Richardson's novels enjoyed great popularity and admiration in Russia.

The XVIII century readers would have liked to find not only the entertainment but also some useful instructions in the book, they were eager to get some new life experience. That is why Richardson's stories did not seem too long or boring because the author was trying to teach or to admonish his readers. Comparing the artistic method of L. Sterne and S. Richardson prof. M. N. Rozanov joked that, the former was a preacher but he composed novels; the latter was a novelist but he wrote preaches [Rozanov 1914: 10]. Soon both in Western Europe and in its motherland Sentimentalism lost its attractiveness as a bombastic and old-fashioned style and was laughed at.

Richardson's novels made quite an unexpected influence on the morals and world outlooks of the XVIII century Russian people. In a number of magazines of that period we can find the information about some local noblemen and gentry who having

lost common prejudices got married to their former maidens and women-serfs [Moscow Viewer 1806: 97], which was considered to be the influence of the English literature; mothers called their daughters Pamelas. One of the journalists (V. Anastasevitch) complained in his Open Letter to a Friend about a "mass craze" in the Russian capital [Sentimentalism] which became a common way of expressing one's feelings.

The Great Russian poet A. Pushkin welcomed the influence of English literature on the Russian writers considering it rather fruitful and more useful than that of France [Pushkin 1979: 32-33]. He discovered a fascinating attractiveness in those XVIII century novels bringing us back to the age-old reception-rooms with damasked walls, downy satin-upholstered arm-chairs, where we meet familiar-looking people in strange clothes who we soon recognize as our uncles and grannies though looking much younger [Pushkin 1965: 50]. These novels always were instructive, giving moral life-lessons and recompensing the main character for his misfortunes and tolerance.

The proof of the fact that Richardson's books were quite popular with the Russian well-educated public was presented by A. Pushkin in his Eugene Onegin where the poet depicted at least two generations of Russian gentry and noblemen who were fond of those epistolary novels. Moreover, he even started writing A Romance in Letters with the characters reminding us those of Richardson's. One more personage of his, the English governess Miss Jackson from a novella Барышня-крестьянка (The Damsel-peasant) used to reread Pamela twice a year and felt awfully bored in "that barbarous Russia". Despite such an ironic context A. Pushkin highly appreciated the mastery of Richardson though he found the character of Clarissa a boring dolt.

As it happened to all other great works by English Enlighteners, in the middle of the XIX century a new translation of the best Richardson's novel appeared in the Russian literature journal Bibliotheka dlya Chteniya (1848). It was Clarissa prepared by an anonymous translator; he used the French translation of the novel made by J. Janin, a great admirer of Richardson who abridged the English novel in half having reduced the number of letters from 419 to 135. The last part of the novel was changed from an epistolary form to narration. The French interpreter explained this publication by his desire to shorten it to be adequately judged by his contemporaries.

In the preface, J. Janin rapturously compared Richardson's talent to that of Shakespeare's in his ability to depict the profound feelings of people and to show the smallest psychological workings of their hearts. The text of the novel was accompanied by the history of Richardson in France and the information about real English people, who could have been

(according to the French author) the prototypes of the character of Lovelace.

A lot of Russian men-of-letters and critics of the middle XIX - early XX centuries were inspired by Richardson's literary merits and wrote with great respect about him. They were A. Druzhinin (1850), G. E. Blagosvetlov (1856), later V. V. Sypovsky (1903), M. N. Rozanov (1914) and F. D. Batyushkov (1917).

The latter believes that the influence of Richardson on Russian literature was rather long-termed and positive. Batyushkov also made an attempt to restore a typological coincidence between the characters created by Richardson, Pushkin and Leo Tolstoy. He typifies the heroes of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina to those of Richardson's: Vronsky to Lovelace (Clarissa), Koznyishev to Grandison (Sir Charles Grandi-son), and Levin to Mr. B. (Pamela). Batyushkov points out that in both of the writers a moralist goes alongside with the artist: sometimes they coincide, in other cases they fork away and their moral concepts serve some other, non-artistic aims [Batyushkov 1917: 16].

The new ideas of the English author about the importance of human feelings, of certain family values and the insignificance of social inequality helped to undermine the religious and cast prejudices of high society about the moral inferiority of lower classes. He spoke passionately about the position of a woman in the society which reflected his concern about the moral climate in the English family. His books were instructive and aimed at improving morals. And they brought him popularity and respect.

Richardson's sentimental books were widely read for about 50 years between the XVIII and XIX centuries. A few generations of Russian nobility lived and loved according to the ideals set up by the English writer. But none of his books had been translated and printed in Russia since that time. The moral lessons of his had been learned quite well and for good. Now, only a few poetic lines from Eugene Onegin by A. Pushkin remind us about the English man-of-letters whose name used to be pronounced with piety and gratitude in the Russian society of the XIX century.

Considering the literature fate of D. Defoe and S. Richardson in Russia we have been struck by their likeness and at the same time by their difference: the former is still read and no doubt, will be read in future. The latter is hopelessly forgotten, though both of them represent an interesting example of intrusion and implantation into the Russian literature process. The two authors made a great impression on the Russian readers and inspired the men-of-letters for a lot of compilations and remakes. Each of these British authors set up new genres in literature, the names of their characters became nominal typifying peculiar human features. And we

believe both Defoe and Richardson had one more very important quality in common: they tried to teach people how to become better. And we appreciate them for this.


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ЖИВЫЕ И ЗАБЫТЫЕ СТРАНИЦЫ АНГЛИЙСКОЙ ЛИТЕРАТУРЫ (из истории англо-русских литературных и культурных контактов)

Лариса Алексеевна Новосельцева

к. филол. и., доцент кафедры иностранных языков специальных дисциплин Елецкий государственный университет им. И. А. Бунина

В статье кратко рассматривается история переводов и переработок произведений Д. Дефо и С. Ричардсона на русский язык на протяжении конца ХУШ - начала XX в. с точки зрения их критической оценки, восприятия и культурного резонанса в российском обществе. Выбор авторов определяется тем, что сочинения обоих писателей эпохи Просвещения пользовались чрезвычайной популярностью среди отечественных читателей первой половины Х1Х в. Предпринимается попытка объяснить, почему романы Ричардсона утратили свою привлекательность, несмотря на большое количество подражаний, а к истории Робинзона Крузо не угасает интерес не только детей и подростков, но и взрослых.

Ключевые слова: английское Просвещение; робинзонада; сентиментальный роман; переводы, переработки и подражания; взаимосвязи и взаимовлияния литератур.

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