Book ReviewReview of Translation and the Making of Modern Russian Literature
New York: Bloomsbury, 2016. 213 pp.
Reviewed by Pieter Boulogne
“Don’t you think that approaching Russian literature from the perspective of a Translation Studies scholar poses the treat of cannibalizing Literary Studies?” This question was put to me earlier this year during an application interview for the post of professor of Russian literature at my university. Although the question was asked a bit tongue-in-cheek, perhaps for the sake of debate rather than to make a point, it is symptomatic of the lingering prejudices against literary translation studies. Sure, the institutionalization of Translation Studies has been achieved, but at the same time translation scholars still tend to be confined within frontiers in the scholarly landscape that they are not always allowed to transgress – quite ironically, since transgression is at the heart of their research topic. Somebody who has been consistently crossing borders between Translation Studies and Russian literary historiography, showing that Slavists have every good reason to engage with Translation Studies, is Brian James Baer, professor at Kent State University. The list of his recent publications on translation in Russia, including his edited collection Contexts, Subtexts and Pretexts. Literary Translation in Eastern Europe and Russia (2011) (reviewed in Target 26 : 269–273) and his anthology Russian Writers on Translation. An Anthology (with Natalia Olshanskaya, 2013), has now been enriched with Translation and the Making of Modern Russian Literature.